Mitchell Santner scratched from Blackcaps Test squad to take on England

Santner has been replaced by Todd Astle.
Santner has been replaced by Todd Astle. Photo credit: Photosport

Wicketkeeper BJ Watling is back in the New Zealand cricket Test team, named for the two-match series against England.

The 32-year-old, 52-Test veteran has missed the home internationals this summer recovering from a hip injury, which allowed Test replacement Tom Blundell to score a century on debut against the West Indies.

Blundell had done a great job, but Watling is a proven performer at Test level and brings a lot to the group both on and off the field, says New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen.

Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner has been ruled out of the England Tests with a knee injury and legspinner Todd Astle has been brought in.

Santner will undergo surgery for a bone defect in his knee and is expected to be out of action for six-to-nine months while he works though an extensive rehabilitiation process.

He'll also miss the upcoming IPL with the Chennai Super Kings, as well as county cricket season with English side Derbyshire. 

"On a personal level everyone feels for Mitchell. He's a popular guy in the changing room and he's well respected for the work he puts in for the side," said coach Mike Hesson. 

"[Santner] is a key player in all three formats for us, so we’ll certainly miss him in the upcoming series. It’s important though that he gets this fixed and we have him back for what is a big next 18 months for us."

Blackcaps selector Gavin Larsen said Santner was predictably reeling from the cruel turn of events, particularly after rediscovering his best with the bat during the ODI series against England.

"He's pretty cut-up about it, as you would expect. But at the end of the day he's still a young man and he's got an immense future in front of him. We've seen how special he can be," Larsen told Trackside Radio.

Batsman Ross Taylor, who missed the final one-day international with a thigh injury, has been named in the 12-man squad.

The first match, the first day-night Test to be played in New Zealand, starts in Auckland on Thursday next week.

New Zealand Test squad for England: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk).