Kyle Jamieson has impressed after returning from injury but has limited his build-up ahead of the Test series between New Zealand and England.
The Black Caps brain trust can only be public figures feeling the same pressure as Wayne Brown.
While Greater Auckland dealt with the deluge of rain and criticism, New Zealand’s cricket selectors are involved in fitness and health care as they plan the squad for the Test series against England.
The squad – possibly extended to include 14 players – is likely to be announced on Friday, with the first game of the two-Test series starting at Matthew Maunganui at Bay Oval on February 16.
Selector Gavin Larsen and head coach Gary Stead are looking to form a side that can stand a run of six Tests without a win.
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They will be up against a team that, under the new coaching staff combination of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, has won nine of their last 10 Tests after winning just once in their previous 17 games.
The selectors have major fitness issues amid a gradual spate of nerves, which has already been undermined by Boult’s inevitable trident.
The left-armer – New Zealand’s fourth-highest wicket-taker in Test history – is currently playing in the new T20 league in the United Arab Emirates, which ends four days before the first Test.
Among the rising stars are some teenagers with nicknames that many Kiwi cricket fans will recognise.
It’s understood Boult, who was released from his Cricket New Zealand contract last year, does not have Test cricket as a priority, with the Black Caps’ closest appearance more likely to be in conjunction with the One Day World Cup later this year.
That means the fitness of Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson have become decisive factors for the series against England.
Henry withdrew from the ODI series against Pakistan and India after suffering an abdominal strain in the second month of the Test, with a predicted recovery time of 2-4 weeks.
Jamieson’s last Test was against England in Nottingham last June, when he was sidelined with an injury. Last month he returned to domestic action in the Super Smash T20 Tournament and looked sharper, but his longest bowling spell was 9.4 overs in the One Day Trophy match last week.
That can lead to an extended squad named, with Larsen and Stead also playing a factor in the first Test during the day-night, pink ball.
The hosts went without a specialist spinner in the first Test of 2022 at the Bay Oval venue and were shocked by Bangladesh.
However, the pink ball may push the selectors into a similar approach at the opening of the same venue – which hasn’t seen much sunshine in the past month – with Michael Bracewell, who is testing both in Pakistan, likely to be given the spin bowling duties needed.
First-choice spinner Ajaz Patel was the least impressive of the three New Zealand spinners used in Pakistan, while leggie Ish Sodhi improved his chances of further Test action after a four-year absence.
A questionable fitness over the quicks will likely extend Neil Wagner’s career, with the 36-year-old playing the part in the second half of the innings of the first test in Karachi, before coming out of the second test.
Struggling against the pressure to retain his spot is left-hander Henry Nicholls, who has just made 158 Tests at an average of 17.56 since his century against South Africa at Hagley Oval last February.
The 31-year-old could be replaced in the middle-order by Glenn Phillips or Will Young, but may be given another chance with his home Test support, which includes seven out of eight centuries and an average of 48.02 on home soil. .
Possible NZ test squad for two test series v England: Tim Southee (captain), Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Will Young/Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Kyle Jamieson, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, Blair Tickner, Ajaz Patel.