Offspinner Will Somerville, who moved back to New Zealand earlier this year after three years playing for New South Wales, has been called into the national squad for the Test series against Pakistan after injury ruled out Todd Astle.
At 34, Somerville would slot into New Zealand’s top ten of oldest Test debutants should he make his first appearance during the three-match series.
Somerville was born in Wellington before moving to Australia as a child then returned across the Tasman where he made his debut for Otago in 2005. Having completed his education, he then hopped back to Sydney where he eventually made his New South Wales debut in 2014 and in the 2016-17 season claimed an impressive 35 wickets Sheffield Shield wickets.
However, earlier this year he asked to be released from his NSW contract having been encouraged that there could be a route to higher honours in New Zealand.
“We’ve been keeping a close eye on Will and like the look of his all-round game and skill-set,” selector Gavin Larsen said. “He bowls with good control and variation, while his added height means he gets that extra bit of bounce.
“He’s also a handy batsman down the order, as he showed with his half-century in the most recent round of the Ford Trophy. The Test squad already has a legspinner in Ish Sodhi and a left-arm spinner in Ajaz Patel, so we think Will’s right arm offspin will balance out the attack nicely.”
For Astle, the knee injury he sustained during the T20 leg of the tour means his hopes of adding to three Test caps will have to wait. Earlier this year he was ruled out of the second Test against England, in Christchurch, having picked up a side strain following an impressive performance in Auckland.
“Despite a period of rest, Todd’s knee has, unfortunately, not responded as well as we had hoped,” Larsen said. “The best course of action for Todd is to get home and get it looked at, with an eye to returning in the home summer.
“He worked really hard over the winter and is in some of the best shape of his career, so for this to happen is a cruel blow.”