World Test Championship: Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson ruled out of series against South Africa

Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson will miss the two-test series against South Africa later this month.

Williamson has failed to recover in time from a long-standing elbow injury and has not been included in the 15-man squad for the first test, which starts at Christchurch's Hagley Oval on February 17.

Seven years on from his last appearance for the Blackcaps, Otago Volts batsman Hamish Rutherford has earned a recall, as has all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, who missed much of last season with a foot injury. 

Rutherford has been included as batting cover in the extended squad, which will again be captained by Tom Latham. 

Blair Tickner has impressed in the Plunket Shield with Central Stags.
Blair Tickner has impressed in the Plunket Shield with Central Stags. Photo credit: Photosport

Trent Boult will miss the first test, as he awaits the birth of his third child, while Ajaz Patel is a chance to be added for the second test should conditions suit and provided he overcomes his left-calf injury.

"[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," says Blackcaps coach Gary Stead.

"Kane loves playing for the Blackcaps 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."

The 31-year-old Williamson also sat out the two-test home series against Bangladesh last month, due to the niggling elbow issue.

The selectors have named a larger than usual squad to mitigate the health risk associated with bringing players into the team environment at short notice due to injuries.

"It's important to remember this squad is just for the first test, so we do have flexibility to make changes as required, with the likes of Trent and Ajaz potentially available for the second," adds Stead.

Faced with the option of selecting another pace bowler or a specialist spinner in the extended squad, Stead chose opted for Tickner for the first test, based on the conditions expected at Hagley Oval.

Canterbury's Cam Fletcher has been called in as wicketkeeping cover.
Canterbury's Cam Fletcher has been called in as wicketkeeping cover. Photo credit: Photosport

"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."

With his foot injury behind him, de Grandhomme has earned his way back into the test squad on the back of his strong domestic form, Stead adds.

"It's pleasing to see Colin back in the test side, having proved such an influential member before his foot injury last season," he says. "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."

Blackcaps squad for first test against South Africa: Tom Latham (captain), Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Cam Fletcher, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young

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