New Zealand announced a strong 20-member squad for the two Test series against England starting at Lord’s from the 2nd of June which will be trimmed to 15 for the ICC World Test Championship final against India in Southampton from the 18th. Most of the players selected themselves but there were a few interesting choices and some maiden call ups. Amongst these was the inclusion of two uncapped players (at the Test level) – Rachin Ravindra and Jacob Duffy. There is also Will Young about whom not much is known.
Born in Wellington to Indian parents Ravi Krishnamurthy, a software system architect from Bengaluru and Deepa Krishnamurthy, Ravindra is a batting all-rounder who also bowls useful slow left-arm orthodox. The 21-year old has played 26 first-class matches and scored 1470 runs at an average of 38.68 with three hundreds. Ravindra rose to prominence in the 2018 ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand where he aggregated 233 runs in 6 innings at an average of 38.83 and strike rate of almost 90 with one hundred. He was also the highest wicket-taker for the home side and the fourth-highest overall picking 13 wickets at an impressive strike rate of 25 conceding just 5.3 runs per over. It was a world class all-round performance by Ravindra at the mega event which brought him into the limelight.
Ravindra, who plays for Wellington caught the eye of the selectors when he hit his maiden first-class hundred against Auckland in March 2020 in the Plunket Shield. More recently, he recorded a fine 112 for New Zealand A against a strong West Indies outfit comprising the likes of Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Kemar Roach in a tour match in Queenstown in November 2020. He followed that with an unbeaten 144 off 174 deliveries batting at number 6 for New Zealand A in the second unofficial Test against West Indies A in Nelson in December. He also picked six wickets in the second innings to help his team to a 101-run victory.
Ravindra continued his good form and registered a half century – this time as opener against Pakistan A in an unofficial Test at Whangarei – showcasing his flexibility of moving in the order. He then returned from injury and showed character scoring 138 against Northern Districts also bagging six wickets in the last match of the season.
Ravindra has a sort of family legacy in the sport. His father Krishnamurthy played cricket at a decent level in Bengaluru and represented the same club as the likes of Javagal Srinath and J Arunkumar. Ravindra has been hailed by the New Zealand coach Gary Stead and earmarked as a star of the future.
Jacob Duffy is a right-arm fast-medium pacer who stood out on his T20I debut against Pakistan in Auckland in 2020 returning with 4-33 which also earned him the Player of the Match Award.
Duffy was in terrific form for Otago in the Plunket Shield – New Zealand’s premier first-class tournament where he bagged 22 wickets in 6 matches at an average of 22.27 and strike rate of 49.8.
Duffy’s ability to swing the ball makes him an exciting prospect in helpful conditions in England where he could cause a lot of damage with the Dukes ball. He has picked 197 wickets in 69 first-class matches at an average of 31.95. It is Duffy’s List A record which is more outstanding where he has tallied 103 wickets in just 56 innings at an average of 24.53 and strike rate of just 27.1.
Duffy first came into the limelight when he bagged 9 wickets for Otago against Canterbury in Dunedin in the 2015 Plunket Shield. Since then he has been one of the most consistent performers for New Zealand in domestic cricket. He was the joint-leading wicket-taker in the 2017–18 Plunket Shield season for Otago, with 29 dismissals in eight matches. He was also the leading wicket-taker for Otago in the 2018–19 Ford Trophy – the premier List A tournament in New Zealand, with 25 wickets in 11 matches. Excelling across formats, he was amongst the wickets in the Super Smash too, bagging 13 wickets in the 2018-19 season.
Duffy was in fine form prior to his international debut against Pakistan. He produced a six-wicket haul against the West Indians in a four-day match at Mount Maunganui and was the leading wicket-taker of the 2019-20 Plunket Shield with 22 wickets at an average of 22.86.
William Alexander Young is a top-order batsman who has already played two Tests for New Zealand – against the West Indies in December 2020. Young has been a prolific scorer in first-class cricket with 5416 runs in 85 matches at an average of 42.64 with 12 hundreds.
He has been in tremendous form recording back to back hundreds for Durham in the 2021 County Championship in England.
He led Central Stags to the Ford Trophy title in 2016 and the Plunket Shield in 2018. Young was subsequently named in New Zealand’s Test squad for the series against Sri Lanka in 2018 but did not get a chance to play in the series. He was to make his Test debut against Bangladesh in Christchurch before the match was called off post the terrorist attack.
Young grabbed attention when he registered successive hundreds for a New Zealand XI against Australia in warm-up matches ahead of the three unofficial ODIs in Brisbane in may 2019. Apart from the two Tests, Young has also represented New Zealand in a couple of ODIs and three T20Is.