New Zealand's first-Test hero Neil Wagner has been, on Thursday (December 31), ruled out of the upcoming second and final Test against Pakistan starting January 3 in Christchurch.
Wagner played through the pain of two fractured toes in the first Boxing Day Test in Mount Maunganui – where he bowled 21 overs in the first innings and 28 in the second innings after the injury and even managed four scalps to help New Zealand beat Pakistan by 101 runs on Wednesday (December 30).
The veteran speedster played throughout the first Test match against Pakistan on the reliance of pain-killing injections after being struck by Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi while batting on Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test and ended up fracturing two toes on his right foot at Bay Oval.
However, the big-hearted Wagner played with the pain in the first Test but wouldn’t be able to take the field in the second Test against Pakistan and even is expected to be out of action for at least five weeks.
After New Zealand’s dramatic victory in the Boxing Day Test, Head coach Gary Stead has confirmed that Wagner will not play in the Christchurch and they will announce the replacement soon while hailing the veteran pacer for his courage to play with the pain and deliver results in the first Test.
Stead told reporters in Christchurch: “Neil Wagner was outstanding. I'm not sure there are too many individuals that could do what he did in that Test match. He was getting injections to try to numb the pain he was going through. He isn't traveling for this Test match, we made that call. The injections he was getting were wearing off each time and we can't have him going through that again for this Test match. Hopefully, by tomorrow, we'll be naming the replacement.”
The coach further added, “It was amazing what he did. I got to witness what was happening, four-five-six injections going in at a time to work things out. It went from one to two fractures when they looked at his foot again in the X-rays that came through.
Everyone knows Neil plays with his heart on his sleeve. He just showed how tough he really is and how valuable he's been to New Zealand. He was prepared to put his body on the line; he probably needs five to six weeks of healing now to be right for the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, Stead has hinted that Matt Henry could fill Wagner's spot for the final Test since the Hagley Oval wicket is one of the fastest in New Zealand and traditionally offers pace and bounce.
He signed off, “I think it's likely to be a like-for-like replacement, so you imagine it's going to be a pace bowler. Matt's fully fit and he's playing again and he's one of the options we'll be looking at.”
(With AFP Inputs)