Black Caps spring surprise Captain pick for tour of Pakistan

Publish Date
Wednesday, 3 April 2024, 12:20PM

Michael Bracewell has returned to the Black Caps for the first time in over a year, and will captain a heavily rotated New Zealand side to tour Pakistan for five Twenty20 Internationals next month.

With 12 frontline players unavailable for the tour, Bracewell will captain a new-look Black Caps side that also contains two potential debutants.

Bracewell, 33, hasn’t played an international since March last year, and suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in June that ruled him out of the 2023 World Cup in India.

After breaking into the Black Caps test and ODI ranks during the last home summer, seamer Will O’Rourke has the chance to add Twenty20 to his CV as well.

The 22-year-old took the best match figures for a New Zealand debutant in the second test against South Africa (9/93) and impressed in the series opener against Australia before missing the finale with a hamstring strain.

In a brief T20 career, O’Rourke has taken 24 wickets in 24 games at an average of 23.45.

Wellington’s Tim Robinson is the second new face in the side, and has the chance to press his case for a spot at the top of the batting order in the absence of his more-senior teammates.

The 21-year-old finished as the second-highest run scorer in the 2023-24 Super Smash, with 298 at an average of just under 60, and a strike rate of 187.42 with a high score of 139.

Most impressively, though, Robinson finished only 19 runs shy of series leader Henry Nicholls (317) despite playing five fewer matches.

Despite his status as a senior player in New Zealand cricket, though, there is no place for Nicholls in the squad, after he was dropped from the test side at the start of last summer.

Jimmy Neesham is also back in the Black Caps squad for the first time in 2024, after franchise commitments had him play for the Rangpur Riders in the Bangladesh Premier League, and the Dubai Capitals in South Africa’s SA20.

Neesham, 33, is effectively free to make himself available for the Black Caps in between franchise commitments, given he is not centrally contracted to New Zealand Cricket.

However, as seems to be the case with white ball tours in the modern game, the squad is just as notable for the names that are missing.

White ball captain Kane Williamson leads the nine-strong contingent of absentees playing in the Indian Premier League, alongside Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner.

Test captain Tim Southee has been rested for the tour in order to manage his workload in the lead-up to this year’s Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States.

Tom Latham, who has previously captained the Black Caps in the absences of senior teammates, is also unavailable as he awaits his second child, while Will Young has taken up an English county contract with Nottinghamshire.

Former Black Cap Colin Munro was approached to end his four-year international absence for the tour, given his knowledge of Pakistan conditions, but declined the opportunity.

The five-match series begins in Rawalpindi on April 18.

Black Caps squad:
Michael Bracewell (Captain)
Finn Allen
Mark Chapman
Josh Clarkson
Jacob Duffy
Dean Foxcroft
Ben Lister
Cole McConchie
Adam Milne
Jimmy Neesham
Will O’Rourke
Tim Robinson
Ben Sears
Tim Seifert
Ish Sodhi

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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