Blair Tickner, 29-year-old right-arm pacer, is set to make his Test debut for New Zealand in the series opener against England.
New Zealand Test skipper Tim Southee regards the longest format as the pinnacle of the game and talked about the team selection in the match beginning on Thursday.
England will take on hosts New Zealand in a two-match Test series.
“He’s been around the group for a while now and had a taste of the one-day and T20 formats. It’s exciting for him and his family for what should be a very special occasion,” Southee said on Tickner.
England captain Ben Stokes too, spoke highly of Tickner, having watched him from close quarters during a domestic stint in the country back in 2017.
“Any team without Trent Boult playing against you gives you a little bit – we know he’s a quality performer. I played out here for Canterbury a few years ago and played against Tickner, he’s a big fella. Runs in and hits the deck hard. Yeah, I think he loves to get into the contest,”Stokes said, according to ICC.
During their India tour earlier this year, New Zealand lost the T20Is as well as ODIs series.
The first of the two matches against England will be played at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui.
Pacer Trent Boult, having stepped back from his national contract last year, isn’t a part of the New Zealand squad, while Kyle Jamieson will miss the series with a back injury.
Matt Henry too is unavailable for the first Test as he awaits the birth of his first child. This presents a great opportunity for Tickner, who has bagged 13 wickets in nine ODIs and 16 scalps from 17 T20Is in a fairly young international career.
Though the series is not a part of the ongoing ICC Men’s World Test Championship 2021-23 cycle, there’s an added spice to it even before the start.
England, under Stokes and Test coach Brendon McCullum, have embraced an ultra-aggressive style of play. They took over their respective roles at the start of last home summer and England have won nine of the ten Tests since the run that started with a 3-0 sweep of New Zealand at home.
The Blackcaps, meanwhile, haven’t lost a Test series at home since their 0-1 defeat to South Africa back in 2017.
Southee acknowledged his former New Zealand skipper McCullum’s influence on Test cricket.
“I think if you ask the majority of people they still see Test cricket as the pinnacle. Credit to Ben and Brendon (McCullum) and the way they’ve turned things around and made it exciting for people to come and watch and be part of it. Just look at the ticket sales for this series, there’s still plenty of interest in Test cricket and that’s exciting. For me, it’s still the pinnacle of the game. Times are changing with franchise cricket and short-format cricket, but the majority of players still see it as the pinnacle,” concluded the New Zealand skipper. (ANI)