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Uncapped O'Rourke likely to play ahead of Wagner in Hamilton Test

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Published in Cricket
Monday, 12 February 2024 00:08
New Zealand captain Tim Southee has indicated that uncapped quick William O'Rourke has "a good chance" to make his Test debut on Tuesday, when they host South Africa for the second Test in Hamilton.
In the opening Test in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand fielded a three-man pace attack instead of their usual four, featuring Southee, Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson. With Hamilton expected to offer a little bit more pace and bounce, and seam-bowling all-round option Daryl Mitchell ruled out, it will be a toss-up between Neil Wagner and O'Rourke for the fourth quick's spot.

"There's a good chance, he's in the 13," Southee said of O'Rourke. "Neil's been around the group as well and been a great performer for us for a long period of time.

"It's great to have those decisions to be made. Will's an exciting talent and has had a little taste of international cricket, and I'm sure he has a bright future in the highest level as well."

O'Rourke made his international debut during the home ODI series against Bangladesh last December. He picked up five wickets in three matches. Southee said that at 6'4, O'Rourke is a "big and tall guy" very much like Jamieson.

"His strengths are obviously his height and ability to extract bounce," Southee said. "Being a big, tall guy he's not too dissimilar to KJ [Jamieson]. He's got skills with the ball as well. He's got the tools to be a very good bowler and someone who I'm sure will thrive at this level."

"Will's probably played a bit more cricket than I had [at his age]," he added. "He's got a great head on his shoulders.

"He's a pretty mature guy from what I've seen of him. He's had a little taste already, so he knows what to expect, but you just enjoy it and stick to what you've done that has got you here."

Wagner played his previous Test almost a year ago, in Christchurch against Sri Lanka. The 37-year-old has featured in 63 Tests and taken 258 wickets.

"It's not just Neil, it's any guy who misses out, it's not a nice place to be," Southee said. "You want to be out there, representing your country, but the reality is it's professional sport, and there's only 11 guys that can go out and play the game.

"Usually, [coach] Gary [Stead] will break the news and then I'll follow up with a bit of chat as well. It's not the nicest part of the job, but the guys are pretty understanding."

That apart, Southee also confirmed that Will Young will start in place of Mitchell, who is recovering from a longstanding foot injury. Young has played 13 Tests and scored 582 runs, including six half-centuries.

"We will have another look tomorrow, but with Daryl Mitchell not being here, Will Young will slip into the middle order. We'll decide on the final make-up of the bowling attack in the morning, after one final look at the wicket.

"You look at the balance you need across the five days and make a decision according to that."

New Zealand lead the two-match series 1-0, after beating South Africa by 287 runs in the opener.
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