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Williamson ponders NZ speed attack dilemma

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/03/2017 Angelo Risso

Kane Williamson © MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP Kane Williamson Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson is keeping mum on the make-up of his third-Test bowling attack against South Africa, but has backed the uncapped Scott Kuggeleijn to deliver if called upon.

Both vice-skipper Tim Southee and left-arm spearhead Trent Boult have been ruled out of the deciding Test in Hamilton, with the Proteas holding a 1-0 lead.

Fellow pace options Lockie Ferguson and the uncapped Adam Milne are also unavailable for selection as they battle their respective niggles.

The 25-year-old Kuggeleijn has thus been called in as emergency cover, having played his way into decent form for local Plunket Shield side Northern Districts.

The right-arm speedster has taken 166 wickets in 51 first-class matches since his 2011 debut, and earned his Test promotion a month after being cleared of rape charges.

He had previously excused himself from selection while those charges, stemming from an incident in 2015, were being tried and dismissed in court.

Kuggeleijn will now join senior head Neil Wagner and Matt Henry as Williamson's seaming options, but is unlikely to displace the pair after squad selector Gavin Larsen let slip on Friday that they'd both lead the attack.

Nevertheless, Williamson said he'd make a final decision on Saturday.

"He's been playing very well for a number of years at domestic level, taken a huge amount of wickets and been one of the top performers," Williamson said.

"It's an interesting process, with so many injuries, to try and nut down the balance we want to go with - but he's here and in the 13."

The typically spin-friendly Seddon Park wicket has undergone something of a cosmetic lift since New Zealand's ODI at the ground against the Proteas on March 1, with shoots of green peeking out from the surface.

Yet Williamson suggested the wicket's appearance may be deceiving, and expected the ball to turn as it has in Hamilton for most of the Kiwi summer.

That would put the prospect of a two-pronged Black Caps spin attack of Jeetan Patel and Mitch Santner front and centre.

"It never has a huge amount of pace but offers a little bit for the seamers, and I think that side of the block can be a little slower than the other side," Williamson said.

"So there might be a little spin."

The Black Caps head into their last Test of the summer with plenty to prove, having limped to an eight-wicket second-Test loss in Wellington last week.

But staging a series comeback may be complicated by weather forecasts predicting a rain-soaked five days in the Waikato.

Williamson said the spectre of heavy rainfall hadn't concerned him, and called on his side to seize upon any chances they get to play.

"It's very important we bounce back, show that fight and the characteristics this team's about," he said.

"Five days is a long time (so) I'm sure there'll be plenty of cricket."

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