Black Caps suffer injury blow for 2nd Test & Aussie T20 Series

Publish Date
Thursday, 8 February 2024, 12:08PM

By Kris Shannon

The Black Caps may be missing two key batters for this month’s three-match T20 series against Australia.

After Daryl Mitchell was ruled out of those games in Wellington and Auckland, coach Gary Stead confirmed Kane Williamson was in doubt as he awaited the birth of he and wife Sarah’s third child.

Mitchell, resting a foot injury, will also be absent as New Zealand chase a historic series victory in the second test against South Africa at Seddon Park, but Williamson is expected to be available.

Mitchell made 34 and 11 during the Black Caps’ 281-run victory in the first test at Bay Oval, having been rested from last month’s fifth T20 against Pakistan to allow the injury to heal.

But with a two-test series against Australia following the T20s, this was deemed the best chance to give the batter more time off his feet.

“Daryl’s been battling a foot injury for the last six or seven months,” Stead said. “It’s really tough because there’s not a lot of breaks in the next wee while so we thought this gives us nearly three weeks to give him the chance for the best recuperation from it.

“There’s no guarantees that this will work but it’ll certainly improve his chances of getting through a longer stint.

“Daryl’s a huge loss, he’s been instrumental in a number of outstanding batting performances. But it’s important for him and us that we get this right long term.”

Mitchell’s absence will be felt against a full-strength Australia, especially if Williamson is also unavailable. But with more T20 cricket to come between now and the start of the World Cup in June, the Black Caps’ immediate focus in on their test schedule.

“It’s a very strong team — I think it’s just about as good as they can put out,” Stead said of the Australian squad. “We’re at different stages of things — I’ve highlighted Daryl and Kane’s a possibility of not being there for the whole series as well.

“We have some different priorities going on with our team and finalising a few spots right now, and hoping that in the middle of these four tests that we have everyone where we want to from a loading perspective.”

With Mitchell vacating the No 5 spot in Hamilton, Will Young may make a straight swap and add to his 13 caps. But depending on the surface, New Zealand can also opt to play four seamers and elevate Glenn Phillips from No 7.

That would see Mitchell Santner batting a spot higher in a balance to the side that could be employed if the Basin Reserve or Hagley Oval produce seam-friendly conditions against Australia.

“Will’s there as back-up in the squad,” Stead said. “Glenn Phillips has shown he’s more than useful as well, so it could shape that differently.

“You’ve seen the likes of Colin de Grandhomme in that [No 7] role and that can also be a spinning option for us. Mitch bowled beautifully through the test match, while Glenn and Rachin [Ravindra] took three wickets between them and that’s still a significant part of taking 20 wickets. It certainly broadens our options, which is great for the team.”

Four seamers would bring either the recall of veteran left-armer Neil Wagner or a test debut for 22-year-old Canterbury quick Will O’Rourke, who made his ODI bow against Bangladesh in December.

Whatever the make up of his team, Stead was expecting a stronger effort from the second-string Proteas, who struggled to stay competitive at the Mount.

“We were dominant in all four days,” Stead said. “It’s always hard with the unknown of the South African group. While they don’t have a lot of test experience, they’ve got a lot of first-class experience.

“I expect them to be stronger in the second test. A wounded Proteas team — or any team that comes from there — will bounce back.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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