AUCKLAND: The New Zealand Test cricket squad heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday as key batter Henry Nicholls, who had hurt his right calf muscle in training on Monday, has escaped a serious injury and is still in contention to feature in next month’s first Test against England at Lord’s from June 2.
Nicholls had hurt his right calf during a running session at a pre-tour camp in Mount Maunganui and scans have since revealed a grade one strain to the troublesome area. The 30-year-old will now depart with the touring party to England over the weekend as was originally planned and has an outside chance of taking on England, according to ICC.
“While it’s a positive that Henry hasn’t torn the calf, the next two to three weeks are going to be crucial in terms of his recovery and subsequent availability for the Test series,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said on Wednesday.
“Calves can be a challenge to rehab and we will need to minimize the risk of him re-injuring himself with any return to match action.
“With that in mind he is unlikely to play a full part in the two warm-up games as he works on his recovery with our physio Vijay Vallabh and trainer Chris Donaldson.
“Henry’s obviously an important player for us at number five and we know he’ll be doing everything he can to make himself available.”
Nicholls has been a crucial member of New Zealand’s Test squad of late, averaging 40.38 in 46 Tests with eight hundreds.
In the current cycle of the ICC World Test Championship, the middle-order batter has 280 runs in six matches, including a hundred that came in the Black Caps’ most recent Test series against South Africa.
In the previous World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, which New Zealand won, Nicholls had finished as the third-highest run-getter for his team with 592 runs in 11 matches at an average of 39.46.
England are set to welcome New Zealand for three-match Test series, starting with the first match at Lord’s on 2 June before the action heads to Trent Bridge and Headingley.
The hosts are currently languishing at the bottom of the WTC table with a point percentage of 12.50, while New Zealand are sixth with 38.88.