We've got 100% faith in the fact that we have got what we think are the best group of Test cricketers in the country. – Kiwi chief selector
New Zealand have announced an unchanged squad ahead of their third Test against South Africa in Hamilton. The same group that lost first home Test in the summer is expected to lineup at Seddon Park, with Ross Taylor still nursing his low-grade calf tear sustained in the first game. Neil Broom is expected to keep his playing in the playing eleven.
Trent Boult has returned to training following a niggle in the upper leg, while Jeetan Patel is projected to get a nod as well, which means no space for Ish Sodhi.
"We've got 100% faith in the fact that we have got what we think are the best group of Test cricketers in the country," Gavin Larsen, New Zealand's selector said. "I am very confident the coach and captain will come up with the right XI on the day," Larsen added.
The main source of a conundrum for the selectors has been the lower order and the seamers. The Kiwis opted for two spinners and two seamers in the first Test, leaving out Southee to make room for Patel. While Southee returned in the second game, Boult’s injury meant the inclusion of another seamer where Colin de Grandhomme was preferred over Matt Henry. The choice of specialist allrounders has also given a headache to the selectors with both Neesham and Grandhomme failing to provide depth with the bat, but Larsen is expecting better results from the both.
The form of Tom Latham has also been a cause of concern for a mostly inexperienced top order. Without any viable replacements, Latham's position is not in any real threat, though, and Larsen tips him to come good in Hamilton. "He is a classy player, a great individual and part of our leadership team. He is in a rut, and he is battling a bit with his form, but we believe he has got the character and the work ethic to work himself out of this rut," Larsen said.
New Zealand’s next Test assignment is nine months away. That may put extra emphasis on the result of the Hamilton Test. "We need more runs, the bowling needs to be tidied up, and I just want to see a greater fight which I think is a hallmark of the good Black Cap teams," Larsen said.
They also need their coach Mike Hesson, who laid low with an illness, back on his feet if New Zealand are to share the series spoils.