Santner out for up to nine months

New Zealand allrounder Mitchell Santner has been ruled out of cricket for up to nine months with a knee injury which requires surgery.

The 26-year-old, who has been a star performer with the bat in the recent one-dayers against England, was missing from the 12-man squad named on Wednesday for the two-Test series. He has been replaced by 31-year-old Canterbury legspinner Todd Astle.

Santner, who has taken 34 wickets at an average of 37 from 17 Tests with his left-arm spin, experienced discomfort in his right knee during the recent England and Australia one-day matches and a scan revealed a bone defect.

A further scan showed it had deteriorated further and required surgery. Santner will be operated on later this week. He would be out of cricket for six to nine months.

"On a personal level everyone feels for Mitchell. He's a popular guy in the changing room and he's well respected for the work he puts in for the side," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.

"Mitchell is a key player in all three formats for us, so we'll certainly miss him in the upcoming series. It's important though that he gets this fixed and we have him back for what is a big next 18 months for us."

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper BJ Watling is back in the Test team for the England matches.

The 32-year-old, 52-Test veteran has missed the home internationals this summer recovering from a hip injury, which allowed Test replacement Tom Blundell to score a century on debut against the West Indies back in December.

Blundell had done a great job, but Watling is a proven performer at Test level and brings a lot to the group both on and off the field, says New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen.

Batsman Ross Taylor, who missed the final one-day international with a thigh injury, has been named in the 12-man squad.

The first match, the first day-night Test to be played in New Zealand, starts in Auckland on Thursday next week.

New Zealand Test squad for England: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk).

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