New Zealand coach Gary Stead has called on spinner Mitchell Santner to be more attacking with the ball if he is selected to face Pakistan in the test series starting on Saturday in Mt. Maunganui.
Santner was included in the squad earlier on Tuesday with selectors not prepared to risk first-choice spinner Ajaz Patel after he recovered from a long-standing calf injury.
Santner, 28, is almost an automatic pick in limited overs cricket but has struggled to impose himself at test level as a bowler, where his 39 wickets in 22 matches cost 44.71 runs each.
“We know that Mitch in white ball cricket has been a fine bowler for us,” Stead told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday. “I think what we’re looking at is how he keeps being an attacking force in red ball cricket as well.
“He’s trying to get a bit more drop on the ball.”
While Santner has struggled with the ball in red ball cricket, he averages 25.55 with the bat and has scored a test century and two half-centuries.
Stead said he was more likely to fill the all-rounder slot if selected.
“If Mitch does play he’d likely play in that number seven (batting) position,” Stead said. “The key thing was the balance of the team we are looking for.”
Santner was dropped from the test side after last year’s tour of Australia, while the emergence of the towering Kyle Jamieson has allowed the team to have a four-pronged pace attack with Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner.
“We would be unlikely to break up that four-pronged bowling attack,” Stead added as another reason why Santner would be competing with Daryl Mitchell for the all-rounder spot.
“If we are going down that lineup it was more about the ability to bat seven for us.”