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34-year-old Somerville earns call-up for Pakistan Tests

William Somerville’s decision to leave New South Wales in order to pursue a first-class career in New Zealand has paid off after the 34-year-old was rewarded for his perseverance with a call-up to the national squad for the Test series against Pakistan in the UAE. Somerville has been named as the replacement for the injured offspinner Todd Astle, who suffered a knee injury.

Having played 16 first-class matches for NSW previously, Somerville, earlier this year had asked to be released from his contract early so that he could join Auckland Aces in order to qualify for New Zealand, that is his country of birth. In the two first-class matches he has played for Auckland so far in the Plunket Shield, Somerville has picked up seven wickets and is now all set to make his debut in the opening Test in Abu Dhabi, beginning on November 16.

“We’ve been keeping a close eye on Will and like the look of his all-round game and skill-set,” selector Gavin Larsen said on Thursday (November 8). “He bowls with good control and variation, while his added height means he gets that extra bit of bounce.

“He’s also a handy batsman down the order, as he showed with his half-century in the most recent round of the Ford Trophy (against Wellington).”

Astle will now return to New Zealand to consult a knee specialist after picking up the injury during the New Zealand A vs Pakistan A one-day series in the UAE. He had also missed New Zealand’s most recent Test against England earlier this year at Christchurch with a side strain.

“Despite a period of rest, Todd’s knee has, unfortunately, not responded as well as we had hoped,” Larsen pointed out.”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.

“He worked really hard over the winter and is in some of the best shape of his career at the moment, so for this to happen is a cruel blow.”

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