New Zealand named a fit-again Kane Williamson as captain of their enlarged squad for the Test series in England, where he will hope the triumphs of a year earlier can be repeated.
An elbow injury sidelined captain Williamson from both of his country’s recent home series draws against Bangladesh and South Africa.
The world class batsman has not played for New Zealand since November but returned to the crease last week for his Indian Premier League side, Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Williamson is relishing the chance to lead a 20-strong squad in England which features four players uncapped in the longest form.
The three-Test series falls a year after New Zealand beat the English on home soil for the first time in more than 20 years.
Immediately after last year’s series, the New Zealanders remained in England to beat India in the one-off inaugural Test World Championship final in Southampton.
“Playing Test cricket in England is always something quite special and we know the challenge is fierce,” Williamson said.
“It’s one of those places where conditions are unique. It’s great to play them in their back yard.
“Our Test team’s been fairly strong in terms of its consistency as a group for a while, so (the prospect of new players) is certainly something to be excited about.”
Backup wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher has not played in any format for New Zealand while three players — allrounder Michael Bracewell and seamers Blair Tickner and Jacob Duffy — have played in shortened formats only.
There is a recall for top-order batsman Hamish Rutherford, who has not played a Test for seven years.
Ajaz Patel also returns, having been ignored during the home summer on seamer-friendly pitches.
The left-arm spinner’s last Test was in the loss to India in Wankhede five months ago, when he became the third player to take 10 wickets in an innings.
Williamson is among five players involved in the IPL who are unlikely to be involved in two warmup matches — at Hove (May 20-23) and Chlemsford (May 26-29).
The squad will be reduced to 15 ahead of the first Test against England, starting at Lord’s on June 2.
Of the 15 players from the World Test Championship final squad, 13 are returning to England.
The exceptions are batsman Ross Taylor and wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who have both retired.
New Zealand squad:
Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Hamish Rutherford, Will Young, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Colin de Grandhomme, Michael Bracewell, Cam Fletcher, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Jacob Duffy, Trent Boult, Ajaz Patel.
© Agence France-Presse