Mitchell Santner has been ruled out of New Zealand’s two-Test series against England because of a knee injury.
The slow left-arm bowler was a notable performer with the bat down the order in the recently-concluded one-day international series between the teams, amassing 216 runs including a couple of key fifties.
However, the 26-year-old was a conspicuous absentee from the Black Caps’ 12-man squad to take on England for the Tests at Auckland and Christchurch.
Spin duties will therefore predominantly fall to 31-year-old legbreak bowler Todd Astle, who has made only two one-off appearances in Tests – in 2012 against Sri Lanka and four years later against Pakistan.
“Having another spin bowling all-rounder in Todd is of real benefit for us and he’ll be looking forward to his opportunity,” selector Gavin Larsen said on New Zealand Cricket’s official website.
Middle-order batsman Ross Taylor has been included after missing the ODI decider – which England won to clinch a 3-2 series victory – with a quadriceps injury, while wicketkeeper BJ Watling returns after a hip problem sidelined him for the two Tests against West Indies at the back end of last year.
“BJ is a proven performer at Test level for us and brings a lot to the group both on and off the field,” Larsen added.
“We’ve monitored BJ’s progress over the past few months and it’s great to see him back with the gloves.”
New Zealand will stage a day-night Test for the first time when the series gets under way at Eden Park on March 22.
The second and final Test starts eight days later at Hagley Oval.
New Zealand squad: K Williamson (captain), T Astle, T Boult, C de Grandhomme, M Henry, T Latham, H Nicholls, J Raval, T Southee, R Taylor, N Wagner, BJ Watling (wk).