New Zealand face injury concerns ahead of West Indies series

Published November 5, 2020
In this file photo, New Zealand's Martin Guptill, centre, arrives for a practice session ahead of the Cricket World Cup final match between England and New Zealand at Lord's cricket ground in London. — AP/File
In this file photo, New Zealand's Martin Guptill, centre, arrives for a practice session ahead of the Cricket World Cup final match between England and New Zealand at Lord's cricket ground in London. — AP/File

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand head coach Gary Stead will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of medical checks over the next week with six of his cricketers nursing injuries as they prepare to face West Indies later this month.

Stead’s side face the tourists, who are in isolation in a bio-secure facility in Christchurch for the next 10 days, in three Twenty20 Internationals starting on Nov 27 before a two-Test series begins in Hamilton on Dec 3.

Stead’s biggest concern is with his bowling unit.

Pace spearhead Tim Southee (back), fellow pace bowlers Neil Wagner (groin/hip) and Matt Henry (broken thumb), and first-choice Test spinner Ajaz Patel (calf) are all under a cloud.

All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme has foot injury while middle-order batsman Henry Nicholls has a calf strain.

“Injuries are always a concern and we’re certainly monitoring each case closely with our medical staff,” Stead said in a statement on Wednesday.

Southee’s injury is not considered too serious and he was rested from Northern Districts’ first-class match against Canterbury starting on Thursday as a precaution.

He is likely to be available for the match against Central Districts next week but team-mate Wagner has to undergo a scan.

Zimbabwe-born de Grandhomme also has to undergo a scan, with the results expected by Thursday.

“Patel’s recovery is taking longer than expected and he needs to have another scan,” Stead said.

Nicholls is expected to be available for Canterbury’s clash with Otago next week, although team-mate Henry is out for between four to six weeks, making him unlikely for the Twenty20 series and a doubt for the Tests.

Meanwhile, former international wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi has been named the New Zealand team’s new batting coach, replacing ex-Test batsman Peter Fulton who stepped down to become head coach of first class side Canterbury.

Ronchi, who finished his international cricket career with New Zealand in 2017, had been working with the national team for the last two years concentrating on fielding and helping with the wicket-keepers.

Fulton stepped down in July after about a year with the national team, having succeeded long-time batting coach Craig McMillan.

Ronchi was part of the New Zealand coaching staff at last year’s ICC World Cup in England “I’m absolutely pumped,” Ronchi said of his appointment on Wednesday.

“I’ve really enjoyed being back with the team in recent seasons and it’s exciting to be given the opportunity full-time this summer.

“Getting the chance to continue working with our batsmen is a great honour and I’m looking forward to seeing how I can help improve their games and best prepare them to perform at the highest level.”

The 39-year-old Ronchi was born in New Zealand but moved to Australia as a child and played for his adopted country from 2008 to 2009. He returned to New Zealand in 2012 and was brought into the national squad the following year.

He played mostly limited overs matches for New Zealand, including at the 2015 World Cup and made his Test debut later that year before he played three further Tests in India in 2016.

Ronchi retired from international cricket in 2017 but had been playing in various Twe­n­ty20 leagues — including the Pak­istan Super League for Isla­m­abad United — around the world until earlier this year.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2020

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