INJURIES to Trent Boult and BJ Watling leave the Black Caps with just 13 players to choose from going into the first cricket Test against the West Indies starting in Antigua on Thursday (AEST).
Both are suffering quad injuries, simplifying the selection procedure for the first at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
South African-born pace bowler Neil Wagner should make his debut, while wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk will play his fourth Test for New Zealand after his first appearance last year against the Proteas.
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor says Wagner performed solidly in the drawn three-day warm-up match against a West Indies President’s 11 in taking 3-65.
In contrast, the Black Caps’ batting line-up struggled, bowled out for 149 in the first innings then limping to 8-181 in the second to salvage a draw.
“He’s had to wait his time, but he’s got a good first-class record and he bowls with a lot of aggression,” Taylor said.
“I think he’ll be dangerous with the older ball, reversing it.”
Taylor says van Wyk, also born in South Africa, brought a real competitiveness to the group with a vocal style behind the stumps and a gutsy approach to batting.
Van Wyk’s batting proved vital in both innings of the warm-up match as he stuck around for 34 in the first innings, followed by an unbeaten 38 in the second.
“In the middle order against the slower bowling, he’ll be key going forward.”
The return of spinner Daniel Vettori for the two-Test series will be pivotal, Taylor added.
The 110-Test veteran collected 6-48 in the warm-up match, and Taylor expects him to feature prominently.
“He showed what a class player he is, and he’ll be a handful on that wicket,” Taylor said.
“It’s a good West Indian team and we need to bowl well against their lefthanders.”