New Zealand allrounder Mitchell Santner has been ruled out of cricket for up to nine months with a knee injury that requires surgery.
The 26-year-old, who has been a star performer with the bat in the recent one-dayers against England, was missing from the 12-man squad named on Wednesday for the two-Test series. He was replaced in the squad by 31-year-old Canterbury leg-spinner Todd Astle, who was given the nod ahead of Ish Sodhi.
Santner, who has taken 34 wickets at an average of 37 from 17 Tests with his left-arm spin, experienced discomfort in his right knee during the recent limited-overs matches with England and Australia and a scan revealed a bone defect.
A further scan showed it had deteriorated further and required surgery. Santner will be operated on later this week. He would be out of cricket for between six and nine months.
"On a personal level everyone feels for Mitchell. He's a popular guy in the changing room and he's well respected for the work he puts in for the side," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.
"Mitchell is a key player in all three formats for us, so we'll certainly miss him in the upcoming series. It's important though that he gets this fixed and we have him back for what is a big next 18 months for us."
Santer will now miss the IPL, where he had been bought by the Chennai Super Kings for A$100,000, and his county cricket stint with Derbyshire.
Meanwhile, wicketkeeper BJ Watling is back in the Test team for the England matches.
The 32-year-old, 52-Test veteran has missed the home internationals this summer recovering from a hip injury, which allowed Test replacement Tom Blundell to score a century on debut against the West Indies back in December.
Blundell had done a great job, but Watling is a proven performer at Test level and brings a lot to the group both on and off the field, says New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen.
Batsman Ross Taylor, who missed the final one-day international with a thigh injury, has been named in the 12-man squad.
The first match, the first day-night Test to be played in New Zealand, starts in Auckland on Thursday next week.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk).
England squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
First Test (D/N) March 22-26, Eden Park, Auckland
Second Test March 30 – April 3, Hagley Oval, Christchurch