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Kiwi skipper Williamson to make Test return against England

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is set to return to Test cricket for the first time since November after being included in their initial 20-man squad for next month’s tour of England.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) named an extended squad for the three-Test series on Tuesday to include cover for players likely to miss two warm-up games at the end of this month due to their involvement in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).

The squad will be trimmed down to 15 before the first Test at Lord’s on June 2.

Williamson’s elbow injury kept him out of a Test match in India in December and home series against South Africa and Bangladesh.

The 31-year-old is currently playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL and could be among those absent for the warm-up matches, along with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell.

“The red ball tour of England first up is clearly high on our priority list and we’re looking forward to hitting the ground running over there in a couple of weeks’ time,” coach Gary Stead said.

“All going to plan, we will have everyone fit and available for the first Test at Lord’s, and aim to announce our final squad of 15 for that series once we’ve completed our warm-up games.”

Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel returns to the squad, having not played since taking all 10 wickets in an innings against India.

Uncapped players Cam Fletcher – who was called up for the South Africa series earlier this year – Michael Bracewell, Blair Tickner and Jacob Duffy are also included.

Kyle Jamieson returns

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead praised Kyle Jamieson on Wednesday for his decision to skip the Indian Premier League and is hopeful the towering seamer will be back to his best for the tour of England after a lean series against South Africa.

As the second-most expensive player in the 2021 auction, with Royal Challengers Bangalore signing him for about $2 million, the decision cannot have been an easy one for the 27-year-old talent.

“I think it’s a very brave move for someone at Kyle’s age to make but he’s obviously had some experiences there and worked out what he needs as a cricketer,” Stead told reporters on Wednesday.

“I congratulate him for looking after what he thinks he needs to do to play Test cricket, first and foremost.”

The 6ft-8in Jamieson burst onto the international scene two years ago and quickly cemented himself in New Zealand’s strong pace attack.

He struggled to impose himself in the drawn home series against South Africa, however, finishing with six wickets at an average of 33.

“I think he’ll be the first to say he just didn’t feel quite right last year and maybe through a workload issue as well,” said Stead.

“I guess we’re not going to know until we’ve seen him. He’s had a bit of a break.

“He’s looking fit and strong at the moment. So I’m excited to see what he’ll bring.”

Squad:

Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Cameron Fletcher, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young

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