Munro, Wagner get call up for second test
A pair of feisty South Africans have been summoned to bolster New Zealand's ranks for tonight's second test, with Colin Munro handed a test debut and Neil Wagner a recall.
Munro was a late callup after James Franklin was ruled out with a strained right hamstring suffered in the nets yesterday, while left-arm paceman Wagner edged out veteran Chris Martin whose test future must now be under a serious cloud.
They're likely to be the only changes from the innings and 27 run defeat to South Africa in Cape Town, with captain Brendon McCullum giving off-spinner Jeetan Patel his backing ahead of fellow tweaker Bruce Martin.
Martin was named in the New Zealand 12 but will only play at St George's Park if the tourists use two spinners and drop a paceman which seems highly unlikely.
Hard-hitting left-hander Munro will fill Franklin's role at No 7 and fourth seamer with his right-arm medium pace.
Munro's family moved from Durban to Auckland when he was 15. After some blistering form for the Aces, including 269 not out against Wellington, he made a tidy debut in the Twenty20 series before Christmas, but only remained with the test squad when Peter Fulton was ruled out through injury.
"Obviously it wasn't a dream to play for New Zealand because that would be a bit of a lie, growing up in South Africa," Munro said.
"But moving to Auckland at the age of 15 and going through the age-groups and playing for New Zealand Under-19 you get a taste of it.
"As a sportsman you want to test yourself against the world's best so obviously playing for New Zealand is a great honour and one that I'm happy to be a part of."
McCullum was impressed with Munro and hoped he could play a counter-attacking role at No 7.
"He's an aggressive fella and he's fitted into the team brilliantly," McCullum said. "He's worked very hard in the nets and he's got a great attitude and he likes to play the game with a free spirit."
Wagner returns for his third test, his first since August after playing both tests in the West Indies. He became eligible for New Zealand last year.
The Otago left-armer was born in Pretoria and attended Afrikaans School for Boys (Affies) with AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, who will oppose him tonight.
He impressed McCullum and coach Mike Hesson with some brutal net spells after the team's defeat inside three days. McCullum wanted to replicate the fiery approach of South Africa's pacemen, particularly to the lower order, in a bid to square the series.
"Neil presents reverse swing options and it's where he's cut his teeth domestically as well is the ability to use the old ball and be aggressive with that," McCullum said.
"You don't always get into a team based on what you do in the nets but it certainly can't harm you if you're being aggressive and bowling extremely well in the nets. All roads pointed to Neil in this test match."
Patel would hopefully benefit from bowling into footmarks created by left-armers Wagner and Trent Boult, McCullum said. The Wellington off-spinner had worked hard on his batting after some forgettable moments in Cape Town where he retreated to square leg against Dale Steyn.
"He didn't exactly cover himself in glory in the last innings but he wasn't the only one," McCullum said.
Both teams trained in sunshine with a strong wind belting in from the east.
The pitch at St George's Park, hosting its first test since 2007, looked dry and could offer turn and variable bounce later on. It has a reputation for being slow and low, and South Africa have lost their last three tests here.
"We've got a team who we think is capable of performing in these conditions," McCullum said.
"We have some major challenges to overcome but we feel we've got a team who are capable putting South Africa under pressure at times," McCullum said.
New Zealand showed some spine in their second innings in Cape Town, with McCullum, Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling batting defiantly after a horrendous first innings.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith confirmed just one change from Newlands, with paceman Rory Kleinveldt called in for his third test in place of the injured Vernon Philander.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Rory Kleinveldt.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (captain), Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Flynn, BJ Watling, Colin Munro, Neil Wagner, Doug Bracewell, Jeetan Patel, Trent Boult, Bruce Martin (one to be omitted).
Umpires: Ian Gould (England), Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka). Third umpire: Rod Tucker (Australia).
Start time: 9.30pm (NZT).