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Neil Wagner to miss rest of season, but he’ll be back


Neil Wagner of the Black Caps leaves the field hurt during first test against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval, 2023.

Neil Wagner leaves the field at Hagley Oval

Injuries will force Black Caps pace bowler Neil Wagner to miss five to six weeks of cricket but he’s far from done.

Wagner was unable to bowl in the second innings of the dramatic first test win over Sri Lanka in Christchurch after suffering a torn hamstring and a bulging disc in his back.

He did return to the batting crease when wickets were falling late in the Black Caps winning run chase and despite his injuries had to sprint down the wicket on the final delivery to seal New Zealand’s win.

Coach Gary Stead says criticism of Wagner’s age is irrelevant as the 37-year-old still has plenty to offer the team.

“He runs through brick walls for you so you give him some situations that are really tough.

“I think he often comes into his own in the second innings of a game in particular when they wicket really flattens out.”

Wagner himself said after that game that his time in test cricket isn’t over and that people had been writing him off his whole career.

32 year old Doug Bracewell, who played the last of his 27 tests in 2016, has joined the squad for the second Test starting on Friday at the Basin Reserve.

Stead has hit back at criticism of an ageing squad and questions of where the next emerging star is coming from.

New Zealand coach Gary Stead and New Zealand captain Tim Southee.

Gary Stead

He says he’s not concerned that the players he is working with are in their late-20s when they begin making an impact for the national side.

“First class cricket is a little different now, people play for longer periods of time and I think back when professionalism started it was a very young group of players so I think that looks different.

“Of course we want to keep bringing in players when we think they are ready, but for me part of the success of the group is that when players have come in they’ve been successful from the start.

“It’s easier to do that when you have experience under your belt.”

This week the Black Caps will be playing their fourth successive test after a drawn series with England and that first test win against Sri Lanka.

Following two tense wins the players have had a couple of days to rest and refresh.

Stead is prepared for the Basin Reserve game to down to the wire too.

“I think that the way the games have gone we’ve been behind the eight ball on both occasions and it’s important to recognise the resilience and the strengths that have been shown to fight their way back into the tests.”

The last two Tests have gone the full five days and wicketkeeper Tom Blundell admits having the last two tests go the full five days has taken a toll on the bodies but he wouldn’t change the results.

“We’re a team who loves to fight in any situation and we’ve done it in the past and it’s something we’re really good at under pressure.

“Hopefully it doesn’t get that close again but it makes for a great spectacle.”

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