Southee out of first Test, Worker added to squad


Tim Southee, who is expecting the birth of his child, will miss New Zealand’s first Test of the home summer, against West Indies in Wellington. Batsman George Worker has been added to the squad. On Tuesday, fast bowler Lockie Ferguson was also drafted in to the squad for the first Test with doubt lingering over Southee’s availability.
“Obviously there are things more important than cricket and we support Tim and his decision to stay with his family right now,” selector Gavin Larsen said. “George will join the Test squad for the first time on the back of his form in First Class cricket over the past couple of seasons.”
In nine first-class matches this year, Worker has scored 737 runs at an average of 49.13. He has not yet represented New Zealand in Tests, but has played six limited-overs international matches. He made his debut in a T20 against Zimbabwe in October 2015.
Uncapped wicketkeeper Tom Blundell is also set to make his debut after he was added to the squad as BJ Watling’s replacement. “Closer to the time, like Thursday, I’d probably get a few more nerves,” Blundell said. “At the moment, I’m just treating it like another game, as cliched as it sounds.”
Coming off a series in Zimbabwe that was played primarily on slow pitches, West Indies have practiced with just the solitary warm-up game. Three days ahead of the first Test on December 1, the Basin Reserve surface in Wellington was covered with grass, almost indistinguishable from the rest of the outfield.