Uncapped Sayers, 28, one of the few genuine swing bowlers in Australian domestic cricket, returned to the Redbacks’ Sheffield Shield squad early in the 2015/16 season after spending nearly a year on the sidelines recovering from ankle surgery.
While his selection has come as a shock, including to the man himself, it shouldn’t be. Sayers boasts an excellent first class bowling average of 24.82, and has snagged 16 wickets in four Sheffield Shield matches this season.
Sayers said that before today’s announcement he believed his dream of playing Test cricket was over.
“When you’re in form and don’t get picked, then you think maybe the time has passed,” he told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.
“But obviously if you keep taking wickets and knocking the door down then a chance could come eventually – and luckily enough for me it has come.”
Sayers said he was shocked when national chairman of selectors Rod Marsh delivered his selection news.
Marsh said Sayers “thoroughly deserves” his selection.
“Chad has got a terrific record in Sheffield Shield cricket,” Marsh told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“It’s a matter of horses for courses, we think that the conditions in New Zealand will suit Chad. He is a good bowler under conditions that nibble around a little bit.”
The SACA points out Sayers’ is the first home-grown South Australian player to make the Test squad since Peter George in 2010, and the first Redback to be named since the late Phillip Hughes in 2013.
SACA High Performance General Manager Tim Nielsen said Sayers deserved his selection after bowling consistently well over the past few seasons.
“We are so excited for Chadd today and extremely proud – this is a thoroughly deserved selection for him,” Nielsen said.
Tasmanian quick Jackson Bird also features in the squad announced today.
Sayers and Bird replace NSW spinner Steve O’Keefe and Victorian fast bowler Scott Boland in Australia’s squad for their most recent Test – the rain-affected draw against West Indies in Sydney.
The first Test against NZ starts on February 12 in Wellington, with the second Test in Christchurch starting February 20.
The Australian squad: Steve Smith (capt) David Warner (vice-capt), Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Shaun Marsh, Chadd Sayers.
– with AAP
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