Ferguson set for NZ Test debut v England

Daniel Gilhooly
New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson looks set to make his Test debut at home against England

New Zealand are poised to unleash strike bowler Lockie Ferguson for his Test debut, believing he can add a new dimension to their showdowns with England, Australia and India.

Ferguson has starred with his pace in the limited-overs formats but is yet to be used by the Black Caps with a red ball, despite an excellent strike rate in first-class cricket.

Batting coach Craig McMillan hinted strongly on Tuesday that Ferguson would take the new ball in his maiden Test against England, starting on Thursday in Mount Maunganui.

His selection in the first of two Tests would break up the old firm of Trent Boult and Tim Southee - so effective for the past five years in home conditions.

With the Bay Oval expected to provide carry but not a lot of swing, Southee is poised to miss a Test in New Zealand for the first time in almost two years.

In the past seven home Tests - resulting in five wins and two draws - the 30-year-old Southee has claimed 36 wickets at an average under 24.

However, he was captain throughout the Twenty20 series, won 3-2 by England, putting him in the frame for a break.

"The bowlers will have to be managed through the summer - there are seven Test matches and not all of them will play seven Test matches," McMillan told Radio Sport.

"That managed workload will be important so he (Ferguson) might come in for Tim Southee for this first match."

Coach Gary Stead has other quality pace options at his disposal, including the proven Matt Henry.

First-change enforcer Neil Wagner should start this week but he might become a victim of rotation, particularly during the three Tests in Australia from early December when conditions won't be as favourable to his largely short-pitched approach.

Allrounders Colin de Grandhomme (seam) and Mitchell Santner (spin) are expected to play this week and ensure the tail isn't too long, with wicketkeeper BJ Watling poised to come in at No.6, behind an established batting unit.

LIKELY NZ TEST XI:

Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Neil Wagner, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.