The Black Caps had little alternative but to select Scott Kuggeleijn for the third test against South Africa.

Not after losing two front-line bowlers to injury and seeing a potential replacement ruled out. Not after the judicial process was complete and Kuggeleijn was adjudged a free man. And not after his domestic performances were good enough to warrant an international opportunity.

But that logic does nothing to alter the misgivings some will feel about his selection, coming a mere month after Kuggeleijn was acquitted of rape at Hamilton District Court, a 15-minute walk from the ground where today he could make his New Zealand debut.

His inclusion is far more complicated than the binary of guilty and not guilty, as it always is when athletes appear before the courts before being allowed to return to the field.


There are no easy answers and no shortage of diverse opinions.

On the morning Kuggeleijn was called up, for example, one fan on social media insisted the cricketer be able to enjoy his moment, while another told the Black Caps selectors to go f*** themselves.

Some supporters vowed to never cheer for the player and others disavowed the team, while many more said, accurately, Kuggeleijn had faced his day in court and should be free to resume his cricket career.

This all before he has even pulled on a black cap, let alone enjoyed any success in the team. It will only intensify if Kuggeleijn earns a start and plays a starring role against South Africa, and there's no avoiding that quandary.

The following seemingly contradictory facts can all be true: Kuggeleijn was absolved of wrongdoing by a jury of his peers. A civil society dictates he should be allowed to pursue his passion without impediment. Some will be uneasy watching him celebrated on an international stage a few weeks after a verdict was rendered.

And for those who would argue it is unfair for a 25-year-old to continue to be tarred by such serious allegations when he's playing cricket, well, imagine what it must be like for the person who made those allegations.

A woman who believed she was wronged, who sat through two trials and all the indignities those proceedings produced, who heard she was "provocatively dressed" and "looking for male attention", must now reckon with the reality of Kuggeleijn's immediate elevation to the national team.

Or, even worse, must now hear the burgeoning narrative that the fast bowler has been the one to overcome adversity, as if his selection for New Zealand is the final page in a feel-good redemptive tale.

There are no simple solutions to prevent these dilemmas from arising, no way for Black Caps supporters to bypass these intricate questions when Kuggeleijn comes to the bowling crease.

Perhaps his selection could have been delayed until May, when the team fly halfway around the world to play a tri-series in Ireland. The spotlight, at least, would have been less bright and the memory of Kuggeleijn's acquittal would have been less vivid.

But such a strategic decision would have been successful only on a public relations front. Kuggeleijn would have still been playing cricket for his country and Kiwi fans would have still been asked to consider how that made them feel.

Again, no position is correct. It's awkward for all involved. The rules do dictate a young man, cleared of a crime, can then excel at his chosen profession.

But that changes nothing about the plight of a young woman who would be forgiven for skipping the cricket for the foreseeable future.