Kane Williamson ruled out of New Zealand Test series against South Africa

India New Zealand

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson will miss the two-match Test series against South Africa as he recovers from an elbow injury.

Stead said that, unfortunately, the series had arrived too soon for Williamson, in terms of his elbow injury rehabilitation.

“He [Kane Williamson] was desperate to be fit for the series but with the amount of loading required for Test cricket, we had to make the tough call for him to sit it out and focus on returning for the white ball matches against Netherlands in March,” Coach Gray Stead said.

“Kane loves playing for the Black Caps and especially in Test cricket so it was a particularly hard call. However the priority has to be trying to get the injury right and having him available long term.”

Tom Latham has been named as the stand-in skipper.

Cam Fletcher and Blair Tickner have earned their maiden Test call-ups, while Colin de Grandhomme and Hamish Rutherford have been recalled.

Fletcher will be the back-up gloveman to incumbent wicketkeeper Tom Blundell, while paceman Tickner will provide cover for the quick bowlers.

Tickner has played eight T20 Internationals but joins a Test squad for the first time while this is Fletcher’s first taste of a national team dressing room.

Seven years on from his last appearance for New Zealand, Otago batter Hamish Rutherford has earned a recall.

Coach Gary Stead acknowledged that there were significant challenges in selecting the squad to face South Africa.

“Injuries and COVID have forced us to be flexible and I’m really excited with the squad picked,” he said.

“I’d like to congratulate Cam and Blair on making the squad and also acknowledge Hamish and Colin for fighting their way back into the Test set-up.

“Cam has been excellent across the three formats for Canterbury over the past couple of seasons, producing consistent and often match-winning performances for his team.

“This will be a great opportunity for him to come into the Black Caps environment and soak up the experience as much as he can.

“Blair’s been a consistent performer in the Plunket Shield over the past few seasons and we felt his pace, bounce and aggression covered our bases should we lose a pace bowler to injury.

“It’s pleasing to see Colin back in the Test side, having proved such an influential member before his foot injury last season.

“His form of late shows he’s clearly benefited from simply getting back on the park consistently, and it’s great to have his all-round skills and experience to call on.

“It’s a really exciting time for Hamish to be back in the Black Caps after a long time away, and I know he’s absolutely buzzing at the opportunity ahead.”

New Zealand squad

Tom Latham (c), Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Cam Fletcher, Kyle Jamieson, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young.