Ronchi, Craig in New Zealand Test squad

Wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi and offspinner Mark Craig will be hoping for Test debuts on New Zealand’s tour of the West Indies after being named in a 15-man squad for the three-Test series in June. The unexpected call-up for Craig came after Jeetan Patel was reportedly told he was in the squad but made himself unavailable so he could focus on a full season for Warwickshire and be with his wife and baby, who are based with him in the UK.

In a statement, New Zealand Cricket said Patel was unavailable for “personal reasons”, while the team will again be without Daniel Vettori, who felt his bowling loads were not yet up to the intensity of Test cricket. The selectors did not consider Jesse Ryder or Doug Bracewell, declaring that they were “yet to satisfy the selectors that they have their off-field issues under control”.

There was still room for opener Peter Fulton despite his run of low scores over the home summer – after a first-innings 61 against West Indies in Dunedin he managed only 3, 6, 11, 10, 13, 5, 13 and 1 in the remaining home Tests. Tom Latham was included but coach Mike Hesson stressed it was as a batting back-up only, with Ronchi the reserve gloveman to BJ Watling.

Ronchi, who turns 33 next week, has been a regular member of New Zealand’s limited-overs squads since moving from Australia and qualifying for his birth country in 2013. However, he is yet to be given a chance in Test cricket, and Hesson said Ronchi would also provide middle-order batting cover “as he’s a good player of spin bowling”.

The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Craig, who at 27 has played only 22 first-class matches for Otago since making his debut in February 2011. An offspinner who finished the Plunket Shield season with 22 wickets at 39.72, Craig was described by Hesson as a man who had been in the sights of the selectors for some time and whose spin “will be valuable against their left-handed heavy top-order batting line-up”.

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Johnson ponders limited-overs future

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has said he might consider quitting one or both limited-overs formats in order to prolong his Test career, with the 2015 Ashes in England in mind. Though Johnson is yet to make up his mind on which format to drop, he hinted at reconsidering his T20 career first, as he has ambitions of spearheading Australia’s bowling attack for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“I think I’ve got to be a lot smarter now. Twenty20, I will quite happily say, is not my favourite format – I would rather play Test cricket,” Johnson told cricket.com.au. “And maybe one-day cricket I have to look at as well.

“But my main goal now is to get to that 2015 Ashes series in England, so I’ll be doing everything I can to reach that goal.”

Johnson proved the difference for Australia as they reclaimed the Ashes at home with a 5-0 thrashing of England. He missed the previous Ashes in England, which the hosts won 3-0, but Australia’s turnaround in the return series was largely due to his hostile bowling spells that left the England batsmen shell-shocked. He finished the leading wicket-taker with 37 wickets and his lethal spells continued in South Africa, where he yet again finished on top of the wicket charts with 22, guiding Australia to a 2-1 series win.

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Herath spins New Zealand out of WT20 with 5 for 3

Sri Lanka 119 (Boult 3-20) beat New Zealand 60 (Williamson 42, Herath 5-3) by 59 runs Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Rangana Herath sprung from Sri Lanka’s dugout, watched his team-mates collapse, then crafted a Twenty20 spell of astounding quality to slam New Zealand into a wall, claiming five wickets for three runs as Sri Lanka defended 119 and made the semi-finals. He arrived at the bowling crease in the third over, delivered a wicket maiden first up, and had three scalps before New Zealand scored a run off him. By the end of his three-over spell, New Zealand were 30 for 5 – effectively 6, as a dislocated finger prevented Corey Anderson from batting. Kane Williamson batted gamely, hitting 42 off 43 – the game’s top score – but he could not overcome the carnage at the other end.

The dew Brendon McCullum had expected at the toss in this must-win game did not materialise, and though an attack led by Trent Boult justified his decision to chase, his batsmen were stunned to a stall in the Powerplay. They managed 60 for 9 in 15.3 overs, as Sachithra Senanayake and poor running contributed the remaining wickets.

One of those run-outs would provide Sri Lanka and Herath the opening they had been desperate for, with at least 30 runs too few on the board. Martin Guptill pushed a full Herath delivery gently towards mid -on, and though he set off for the single immediately, Williamson did not respond. Herath collected, turned and threw smartly to complete that first wicket, but it would be his next 11 balls that truly defined the match.

Brendon McCullum was kept scoreless for four balls before Herath tossed one up slow and wide, reading McCullum’s advance, before he spun Ross Taylor in his web next over. Taylor survived a plumb lbw shout, but was out to a straighter one immediately. James Neesham played all around one that straightened, and when Luke Ronchi was trapped in front by another straightening ball next over, New Zealand had been knocked breathless.

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Williamson’s 70%, and Herath’s unbelieveable average

Stats highlight from Sri Lanka’s win against New Zealand in Chittagong

Shiva Jayaraman

March 31, 2014

Rangana Herath’s magnificent figures of 5 for 3 are the third best in T20 internationals. The top two also belong to Sri Lanka – Ajantha Mendis took 6 for 8 against Zimbabwe in the last World T20 and 6 for 16 against Australia in 2011. Before this game, Herath had played only six T20Is and taken six wickets at an average of 20.16 and an economy of 6.72.

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‘A privilege to work with Kirsten’ – Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen, the new captain of Delhi Daredevils, has rated Gary Kirsten as the No.1 coach at the moment, and said the franchise is lucky to have the South African in its coaching staff, as it looks to rebuild after a poor 2013 season. Pietersen was speaking to ESPNcricinfo during a live video chat on Thursday where he took questions from fans via Twitter.

Kirsten, who had earlier coached India and his native South Africa, was appointed Daredevils’ head coach for 2014 last September. Pietersen, who had represented Daredevils in previous seasons, was named captain last month. Pietersen said his interactions with Kirsten over the last few days, with the squad assembling ahead of the start of IPL 2014, have been “fantastic.”

“Gary and I sing off a similar hymn sheet. It’s an absolute privilege to work with Gary,” Pietersen said. “He is probably rated the No.1 coach at the moment. Delhi are very fortunate to have Gary. He’s got the personality that makes you want to really be successful for him and the franchise. He makes you feel happy about yourself.

“When he talks he means it and everything that comes out of his mouth makes sense. It has been fantastic working with him so far. We will do whatever we can to prepare ourselves the right way so we can have a fun competition.”

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Klinger signed by Warriors

Michael Klinger will move to Western Australia for next summer, as the man to plug the gap left in the Warriors’ squad by the retirement of Marcus North. A two-year contract with WA lured 33-year-old Klinger westward, though he still had a season of his existing deal with South Australia left to run.

The news of Klinger’s signature will be a relief for the Warriors coach Justin Langer, who has been working to find a senior pro following North’s surprising decision to finish his Australian first-class career after a summer’s renaissance as an opening batsman. Having moved to SA from Victoria in 2008 in an effort to supercharge his fortunes, Klinger has developed a reputation as a solid citizen and capable leader, also guiding Gloucestershire in England.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity the Western Warriors have given me,” Klinger said. “I am looking forward to working with Justin and the coaching staff as well as joining the senior players in helping to guide this very exciting young group of talented cricketers to achieve success.

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