Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori will miss New Zealand's tour to South Africa because of injury.
The 33-year-old former skipper, who has taken 359 wickets in 111 tests, suffered his Achilles tendon injury during the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September.
He has since missed New Zealand's most recent tours to the West Indies, India and Sri Lanka - a total of seven Test matches.
The Black Cats will play two Tests, three one-day matches and three Twenty20 internationals in South Africa starting on 21 December.
It is the latest blow to a team facing a leadership crisis with New Zealand Cricket expected to reveal soon whether Ross Taylor will remain as Test captain or hand the reins to Brendon McCullum.
If the selectors opt for a strong spin attack then legspinner Todd Astle and offspinner Jeetan Patel are likely to be top of the list.