NZ skipper Williamson passed fit for 1st England test

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP)Captain Kane Williamson has been passed fit to lead New Zealand in the first cricket test against England at Mount Maunganui.

Williamson missed New Zealand’s five-match Twenty20 series against England with a hip injury and has played only one innings in the past three months, making 26 for Northern Districts in a domestic first class match.

Selector Gavin Larsen was confident enough in Williamson’s fitness to name him Friday at the head of a 15-man squad for the first match of a two-test series, starting Nov. 21 in New Zealand.

”Kane’s made good progress over the past fortnight and we’re delighted to welcome back a player of his class and experience,” Larsen said.

Fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is likely to make his test debut after playing 36 one-day and eight T20 internationals. The pace bowler has 153 first class wickets at an average of 24, enough to convince Larsen he is suited to the longer form.

”There’s no doubt Lockie has been knocking on the door for a while now and we’re delighted to finally bring him into the test fold,” Larsen said. ”It’s well documented he has raw pace but he also possesses a quality bowling skill set and has proven durability to stay on the park.”

Ferguson joins Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Matt Henry in a strong fast bowling unit.

”Our pace bowling stocks are strong at the moment and we feel Lockie will add another dimension to the picture which will create some great competition,” Larsen said.

Leg spinner Todd Astle has been named along with left-armer Mitchell Santner as the spin options, displacing Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville from New Zealand’s previous test squad.

”There were certainly some tough decisions in terms of the spin group with Will and Ajaz performing admirably in their tours of the sub-continent,” Larsen said. ”We’ve gone with the versatility of Mitchell and Todd who have experience in the conditions we will face over the next few months and will bolster our lower order batting which could be vital.”

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, B.J. Watling.

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