Ross Taylor
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson made a timely return to form with an innings of 59 from 38 balls.

Captain Kane Williamson will miss New Zealand’s two-test home cricket series against South Africa with an elbow injury.

The strain injury, which can’t be corrected by surgery, also caused Williamson to miss New Zealand’s recent series against Bangladesh. His most recent test was against India in November.

The retirement of veteran Ross Taylor will leave New Zealand with one of its thinnest batting lineups in recent years, with the bowling allrounder Daryl Mitchell likely to bat as high as No. 5.

Coach Gary Stead has recalled batsman Hamish Rutherford and allrounder Colin de Grandhomme to an enlarged 15-man squad which also includes uncapped wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher and seamer Blair Tickner. Rutherford last played a test in 2015.

New ball bowler Trent Boult will miss the first test while awaiting the birth of his third child.

Stead said Williamson was “desperate to be fit for the series but with the amount of loading required for test cricket, we had to make the tough call for him to sit it out and focus on returning for the white ball matches against the Netherlands in March.

“Kane loves playing for the Black Caps and especially in test cricket so it was a particularly hard call. However, the priority has to be trying to get the injury right and having him available long term.”

The first test against South Africa begins on on Feb. 17 and both tests will be played at Hagley Park in Christchurch to limit travel and reduce players’ exposure to COVID-19. New Zealand have never beaten South Africa in a Test series.

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