MOUNT MAUNGANUI: New Zealand captain Tim Southee said Wednesday that pace bowler Blair Tickner would make his debut in the first Test against England.

The 29-year-old Tickner, who has played nine one-day internationals and made 17 Twenty20 appearances for New Zealand, will win his first Test cap Thursday in the day-night match at Mount Maunganui.

“He’s been around the group for a while now and had a taste in one-day and T20 cricket, so it’s exciting for him,” Southee told reporters.

Southee, captaining New Zealand at home for the first time since taking over from Kane Williamson, said he would finalise the rest of his team before Thursday’s toss.

“We’ll wait and see how the wicket shapes up tomorrow,” Southee said.

Ground staff at the Bay Oval have been working hard to get the pitch ready following heavy rainfall caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

A state of emergency is still in effect across New Zealand as the mopping up begins after widespread flooding and both teams trained this week under a marquee. “It’s been an unusual build-up with the weather, but we have been fortunate with the marquee and some pretty good facilities,” Southee added.

“A cyclone two days before a Test match is unusual but the groundsmen are reasonably happy with how the surface is.”

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Southee’s attack been weakened for the first Test of the two-match series by the loss of Kyle Jamieson, ruled out with a stress fracture of the back, and Matt Henry, who is expecting his first child.

The captain explained why New Zealand had opted against recalling veteran left-arm pace bowler Trent Boult, who released from his central contract last year to play in Australia.

“Trent made his decision in handing back his contract, so New Zealand Cricket has made the decision to back the guys who are playing domestic cricket here,” said Southee.

“It will be interesting to see how the decision pans out and we have to box on.”


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