New Zealand have suffered a major blow in their preparations for the two-test series against England with Kyle Jamieson ruled out due to a back injury and fellow paceman Matt Henry to miss the opening match while awaiting the birth of his first child.
While Trent Boult is available and a short drive away from the first test venue in Mount Maunganui, selectors have overlooked the former pace spearhead as a replacement because he opted out of his national contract last year.
Instead, the uncapped duo of Jacob Duffy and Scott Kuggeleijn have been drafted into the squad ahead of the series-opener starting at Bay Oval on Thursday.
Jamieson emerged from a two-day warm-up against England in Hamilton unscathed but scans indicated a suspected stress fracture in his back, a recurrence of the injury that saw the towering paceman break down in last year’s tour of England.
“Clearly a big blow for us,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead told reporters at training on Tuesday.
“He was tracking beautifully and it came as a real surprise to us … and to Kyle as well.”
With Henry also out, New Zealand could use a bowler with Boult’s pedigree against a rejuvenated England team that have won nine of their last 10 tests under new captain Ben Stokes.
Stead said selectors had an internal discussion about calling up left-armer Boult, who has 317 test wickets from 78 matches, but opted against it.
“I guess since Trent chose to give up his contract about four or five months ago or whenever that was, then we’ve made it pretty clear that priority would go to others and that’s the way it’s gone,” said Stead.
“It’s not saying that we’ve ruled Trent out completely for anything in the future. There will be ongoing discussions.”
New Zealand’s preparations have also been impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, which triggered a national state of emergency on Tuesday and brought widespread flooding, landslides and forced evacuations in the North Island.
Several players’ flights were cancelled, delaying their arrival to the team’s training camp in Tauranga.