New Zealand coach John Wright has shrugged off criticism after the omission of Brendon McCullum from the limited-overs squads to play the West Indies
The hard-hitting right-hander, currently playing for the Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League, will not play in the two T20Is and five ODIs in a bid to manage his workload during a heavy touring schedule.
BJ Watling and Tom Latham have been afforded the chance to impress in the absence of McCullum. The 26-year-old Watling is the favourite to fill in for his fellow wicketkeeper-batsman, while the 20-year-old Latham sports an outside chance.
“Resting McCullum was decided some time ago with myself, fellow selector Kim Littlejohn and director of cricket John Buchanan, from the point of view that there was an awful lot of cricket coming up,” the New Zealand Herald quoted Wright, who will vacate his post after the tour, as saying. “That also gives us an opportunity to look at someone else.
“In this case Brendon has accepted that perhaps a spell would not be a bad thing, given the fact also of his IPL commitments. People will comment on that, but it’s reality.”
While McCullum will join the side for the two Tests, Tom Southee has been dropped in the wake of an undesirable stretch of form and inadequate fitness. Neil Wagner, meanwhile, will make his debut.
The South African-born seamer has earned his international bow on the back of a string of prolific performances in New Zealand domestic cricket this season, taking 46 wickets at an average of 26.32 for Otago in the Plunket Shield.
“You can’t have enough depth in that area and Neil is going to add to that,” added Wright
“It will be a step up from domestic cricket and he will have to understand the disciplines that go with bowling in Test cricket.”
The limited-overs leg of the tour starts with the first T20I in Lauderhill, Florida. on 30 June. The Test series commences on 25 July.