BLACKCAPS First Test team announced

BLACKCAPS coach John Bracewell has announced the team for the first Test v South Africa at Pretoria from April 15-19.

Captain Stephen Fleming makes his 100th Test appearance, while Jacob Oram comes into the side for Jamie How for the only change from the team which started the third National Bank Test against the West Indies in Napier.

Peter Fulton has been elevated to open the batting, with Oram, in his first test since October 2004, listed at sixth in the order.

Shane Bond has been slow responding to treatment on his injured knee, but team management are still hopeful of him being able to take his place in the side.

The decision to bat all-rounder Jacob Oram at six is to accommodate a fifth bowling option.

Bracewell said: “We will ideally need a quality fifth bowler to be competitive against the top sides who have batting depth, especially as we are at altitude. South Africa bat strongly well down their order and we need these resources to counter that.

“To do that, and to retain our most in-form and experienced batting line-up, we will open with Peter Fulton, with the captain batting at three.”

With the middle order then sorting itself out, it became a matter of which player of Hamish Marshall, How or Michael Papps would partner Fulton at the top of the order.

“The decision on the other opener was a tough one,” Bracewell added.

“It is very tough on both Michael and Jamie, but the tour selectors’ assessment is that Hamish has the record, especially against the top sides, has a great temperament and is ready for the challenge.”

The first Test between the BLACKCAPS and South Africa starts at Centurion at 7.30pm NZT (9.30am local time).

BLACKCAPS: Stephen Fleming (captain), Daniel Vettori (vice-captain), Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, James Franklin, Peter Fulton, Hamish Marshall, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris.

Live scoring and reports on all three of the BLACKCAPS' Test matches in South Africa will be available on .

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