Niall Anderson analyses five things to watch ahead of tomorrow's second test between the Black Caps and England in Hamilton.
Will Lockie's wait go on?
It would be a surprise to many if Lockie Ferguson didn't make his debut in the England test series, especially when given an injury to Trent Boult, but such a scenario could well take place if the Black Caps opt to pick Matt Henry over him at Seddon Park.
While Henry's test record – 27 wickets at an average of 47 – is underwhelming, he's only played one test since 2017, often being the odd man out and left on drinks duty despite a fantastic English county and domestic first-class record. With a touch of grass and the right overhead conditions, he could be seen as a sensible, like-for-like replacement for Boult.
But, with Ferguson surely an option the Black Caps will want to unleash on Australia at some point in their upcoming three tests and also more than capable of taking the new ball, it would be an interesting decision if he ends up playing no part against England.
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Big Man's a Big Loss
It sounds slightly ridiculous, but the argument can be made that the loss of Colin de Grandhomme to injury is a bigger blow than the injury to Boult. De Grandhomme has quickly become an indispensable member of the Black Caps test team, especially at home, and has the remarkable averages of 40 with the bat and 30 with the ball.
And while the Black Caps have a bevy of quality fast bowlers to replace Boult, the all-rounder stocks are slimmer. Daryl Mitchell is just as capable a batsman, but a different type of bowler – closer to Neil Wagner in style, with a bustling action and a tendency to try and hurry batsmen. He won't get nearly the swing or nibble off the seam that de Grandhomme usually earns, meaning he's unlikely to be as effective an option as a first-change bowler in the first innings.
Raval looked all at sea in Mount Maunganui, offering several chances before his eventual ugly dismissal for 19. It's now eight first-class innings without passing 33 for the opener, and with the Black Caps having not included another opening batsman in their squad for the Australian series, nor having any real options putting their hand up in domestic cricket, they will be left to simply hope he can find some form in Hamilton. The last time he played at Seddon Park he made his sole test century, hitting 132 against Bangladesh, and the coaching staff will be looking for something similar ahead of a visit to take on the daunting Australian attack.
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Joe Root's form has been the subject of criticism in England, with the skipper averaging just 27 in tests in 2019. There have been some calls that he should relinquish the captaincy – not that England have many other enthralling options – and he got out cheaply at the Mount, in both mode of dismissal and runs scored.
Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor knows what it's like to juggle a heavy load as both captain and senior batsman, and predicts Root will be in the runs soon enough.
"It is a tough balance, but first and foremost you're a batsman I think, and sometimes it's a bit easier to give those messages when you are scoring runs. But he's a class player and it's only a matter of time before he does score some runs – from our sake, I hope it's not too soon."
England's injury scare
England could be without wicketkeeper Jos Buttler for tomorrow's test, after the big-hitting batsman tweaked his back in the gym this morning. The visitors are hopeful he'll be fit, but if not, Ollie Pope will take the gloves. Root didn't want to speculate who would come into the team, with all-rounder Chris Woakes a potential option, but uncapped batsman Zak Crawley would be the most likely replacement in an attempt to bolster England's batting.