New Zealand faced a couple of major blows during their ongoing Test series in Australia as pacers Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult have been ruled out of the tour because of injuries. The Kiwis have already lost the three-match series and will take on the hosts in the academic third match in Sydney starting January 3. The visitors have called up right-arm off-spinner Will Somerville as the replacement for Boult for the game.
The 35-year-old Somerville has much less experience in Tests compared to Boult as he has played only three matches in the long format (Boult has 256 from 65) but he has experience of playing on the Australian soil. He has a better average of 25.14 than Boult and the fact that New Zealand’s main spinner Mitchell Santner failed to deliver in the series so far could also have prompted the visitors to go for a specialist spinner.
SCG’s spin-friendly surface also a reason for picking Will Somerville
The Sydney Cricket Ground’s (SCG) spin-friendly surface had also a role to play behind the choice of Somerville. Coach Gary Stead was quoted as saying by India.com, “There’s no secret the SCG pitch is one of the more spin-friendly in Australia. Will offers something different to our two other spinners in the squad with his right arm off-spin and height. The fact he’s played a lot of cricket in Sydney during his career for New South Wales will also be helpful as we prepare for this final Test.”
Santner has struggled in the series so far, capturing just one wicket conceding 250 runs in two Tests and it was so bad for him in Melbourne that captain Kane Williamson even asked opening batsman Tom Blundell to bowl instead of the specialist bowler.
Senior Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon acknowledged New Zealand’s move to say if Somerville got to play in Sydney, he will pose a big challenge. “He’s a lovely guy, he goes up the back of the ball. I’ve trained with him a fair bit being part of the NSW squad together for a few years there. He’ll be a big challenge for us. He gets a fair amount of bounce, has a great record at the SCG, he loves bowling there. He’ll be a different challenge for us and good one for our batters,” Lyon added.
New Zealand have last beaten Australian in an away Test series in 1985-86 while the last time they won a Test match against their neighbors was in 2011-12.
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