Patel, Neesham return to NZ squad for South Africa series

New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill, right, watches as he hits the ball for six runs during their one day cricket international match against South Africa at Seddon Park in Hamilton, New Zealand, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Alan Gibson/NZ Herald via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Off-spinner Jeetan Patel and allrounder Jimmy Neesham have been recalled to the New Zealand cricket team for the three-test series against South Africa, but no place has been found for explosive limited-overs batsman Martin Guptill.

The 36-year-old Patel and batting allrounder Neesham missed New Zealand’s recent test series against Pakistan and Bangladesh and last played in the five-day format against India late last year.

The pair will replace opener Dean Brownlie and fast bowler Matt Henry in New Zealand’s 13-man squad for the series which begins in Dunedin next Wednesday.

Selector Gavin Larsen said Patel would bring variety to the New Zealand attack which faces a challenging time against a South Africa batting lineup which includes left-handers Quinton de Kock, J.P. Duminy and Dean Elgar.

”Jeetan brings the ability to spin the ball away from the left-handers, which complements our other spinner in Mitchell Santner nicely,” Larsen said. ”He brings a huge amount of experience to the team and gives us the balance of having two front-line spin options.”

Neesham made 71 in his last test match against India and will likely bat at No. 6 in the New Zealand order.

Larsen and New Zealand coach Mike Hesson have preferred Henry Nicholls at No. 5 ahead of Guptill, who made an unbeaten 180 in the fourth one-day international against South Africa earlier this week.

Guptill has played his previous 47 tests as an opener, averaging 29, and has often appeared vulnerable against the new ball. With an established test match opening partnership between Tom Latham and Jeet Raval, Guptill would have to bat in the middle order and Hesson has indicated he would need to play more often in that role at first-class level before being considered for a test recall.

Hesson is also keen to stand by Nicholls, who has begun to show some form in tests, scoring 53 and 98 during the series against Bangladesh.

Left-arm seamer Neil Wagner has recovered from a broken finger to reclaim his place in the new Zealand squad.


Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Jeetan Patel, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, B.J. Watling.