Black Caps bolter at 34: The peculiar trans-Tasman tale of new spinner Will Somerville

The Black Caps have dug deep into their spinner stocks for their upcoming Test series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, calling in Will Somerville as an injury replacement for Todd Astle.

Somerville, 34, has been off the radar for a decade playing cricket in Australia - six of those years without even playing in a top-level competition after spending time in Sydney's club scene from 2008 to 2014.

He finally got a break with New South Wales and showed his worth in the 2016-17 Sheffield Shield, taking 35 wickets at 23.14.

However, with no Australian selection in sight due to the spinning talents of Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe, Somerville returned to New Zealand this year where the Auckland Aces claimed him at the recommendation of former Black Caps skipper Daniel Vettori.

He now looks set to earn a Black Caps debut later this month.

Selectors confirmed this morning Astle had been ruled out from the remainder of the tour with a knee injury while Mitchell Santner remains on hiatus with a knee injury of his own.

"Despite a period of rest, Todd's knee has, unfortunately, not responded as well as we had hoped," selector Gavin Larsen said.

"The best course of action for Todd is to get home and get it looked at, with an eye to returning in the home summer."

As such, the door opened for Somerville to join Ish Sodhi and Ajaz Patel as the spinners unit for the Test squad.

"We've been keeping a close eye on Will and like the look of his all-round game and skillset.

"He bowls with good control and variation, while his added height means he gets that extra bit of bounce.

"The test squad already has a leg-spinner in Ish Sodhi and a left-arm spinner in Ajaz Patel, so we think Will's right arm off-spin will balance out the attack nicely."

Somerville will depart for the United Arab Emirates on tomorrow to join the squad ahead of the first of three Tests starting on November 16.

Black Caps Test Squad v Pakistan: Kane Williamson (captain), Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Will Somerville, Ish Sodhi, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.

Auckland bowler Will Somerville celebrates the wicket of Schmulian.
Auckland Aces v Central Stags, Plunket Shield Cricket, Day 1. Eden Park Outer Oval. Auckland, New Zealand. Wednesday 17 October 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Auckland bowler Will Somerville celebrates a wicket in Plunket Shield cricket. Source: Photosport