Black Caps hero responds after questions about future
- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 15 March 2023, 9:07AM
If his courageous efforts on the pitch against Sri Lanka weren’t enough, Black Caps bowler Neil Wagner has delivered another ardent reminder that he is far from finished.
Wagner, who celebrated his 37th birthday by coming out to bat with a torn right hamstring and a bulging disc in his back to help New Zealand to a stunning last-ball test victory over Sri Lanka on Monday, says he is “quite gutted” to hear speculation about his future as he deals with a spate of injuries.
Speaking to the Country Sport Breakfast, the veteran seamer said he still believes he has plenty left in the tank.
“I heard a couple of yarns that people are saying maybe that’s my career done,” Wagner said.
“Quite gutted hearing that. It’s definitely not done and dusted for me. Injuries happen. I’m actually quite more surprised with what I’ve been able to do since the Mount [Maunganui] test [against England] and now, to play through the pain and niggles that I’ve done in my body and to be able to handle quite a bit of a bashing. I do believe I’ve got a lot left in the tank.”
Wagner has continued to show his importance to the test side this year, including a four-for in the first test against England at the Bay Oval and another four wickets in the final test against Brendon McCullum’s men, a key part of the Black Caps’ dramatic win at the Basin Reserve.
After injuring his back and leg on day three in Christchurch during a bowling run-up, which has ruled him out of the second test against Sri Lanka in Wellington, Wagner still managed to bat and battled through pain to play his part in another last-gasp victory.
“You don’t feel it at that moment, to be honest,” he said when asked about how he was feeling when he was out batting in the dying stages of the test. “Just try and focus on the job at hand and the task at hand, I guess. It’s not till afterwards you start feeling it and go, oh gosh, I don’t know how I scrambled along.”
“It looks a little bit different on TV than what it was in my mind,” he added about his final dash to make it home as he and Kane Williamson scrambled for a match-winning bye on the last ball of the test.
“The picture I had in my mind was a little bit running like an idiot. But it looked like I actually made okay ground and tried to dive. I think I would have been out if it hit the stumps, so just fortunate that he missed.”
Wagner said he is determined to return stronger after a period of rehabilitation.
“I feel like if you can still contribute to the team, if you still feel like there’s something you can offer and the mind is still fresh and the body still wants to, yeah you can do it,” he said.
“It’s a big rehab programme for me now. I think it’s about 12 weeks looking into being able to be 100 per cent fit bowling-wise. A little bit gutted I’m missing out on going to Yorkshire, potentially, with my county gig I had lined up. So that’s a bit frustrating and frustrating to get injuries, but it’s an opportunity to get the body right and fit and strong, and to come back and try to be better.
“I’m not looking too far ahead and what my career would have in store for me. But for me, it’s just to get myself fit and strong, get myself another crack at it and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
With Wagner out, Doug Bracewell could be in line for a return to the test arena for the first time since August 2016, with the Black Caps announcing that he would join the squad when it assembles in Wellington on Tuesday for the second test.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
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