Kyle Jamieson is back, but the seam bowler won’t play both Tests against England this month.
Jamieson’s been named in the 14-strong squad, set for his first appearance for New Zealand since a serious back injury in June.
He’s been managing his workload since being able to return to the bowling crease – playing club and domestic cricket.
“We’ve taken a relatively conservative route so far to make sure that he’s just progressing with his volume and intensity, through domestic and a little bit of club cricket as well,” Black Caps coach Gary Stead said. “We just feel now is the right time, with four Tests in the next month or so that he is ready to take that next step up.”
Though the powers-that-be won’t push Jamieson too hard, in the hope he can regain the form that saw him burst onto the world cricket scene.
“He’s obviously coming back from a reasonably serious back injury and I just want to put it out there right from the start that I think it’s unlikely that Kyle will play both Test matches and that’s just about his continued rehabilitation and making sure we don’t put him in a compromising position going forward.”
That news seemed to slightly surprise Jamieson, who said that’s a decision for the coaches. But he is aware it’s a long road back and something he needs to be careful about exerting too quickly.
“I’m feeling good, I’ve bowled a huge amount of overs. Not so much in games, but have been bowling since the start of November so while the eyes haven’t seen the number of overs I’ve bowled there is a decent workload under the belt,” Jamieson explained.
“You don’t want to rush things and then have to sit down on your bum and go through the whole process again. It’s been a reasonably cautious approach but one that’s crucial in terms of how much cricket we still have to play through the year.”
Allen remains the man at the top
Finn Allen remains the Black Caps’ opener to partner Devon Conway at the top of the white ball order.
Allen’s place is being questioned by some after an underwhelming tour of the sub-continent with his overall record across ODIs and T20s registering just two half centuries.
“He was a little bit mixed at times and Finn’s the first to admit that perhaps it wasn’t the volume of (wants). But from our point of view he still provides us with that carefree nature where he can go out and destroy a team at the start of an innings,” Stead reiterated.
The Black Caps see Allen as a replacement for Martin Guptill who, in turn, has struggled since giving up his New Zealand Cricket contract, most recently for the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.
But with a 50-over World Cup in India this year, it’s an area the coaches and selectors will be monitoring.
“We’ll review all players and performances as we do after every tour but we haven’t done that at this stage.”
Stead defends break during Indian series
Gary Stead watched on from home while Allen and the rest of the Black Caps struggled through the limited overs matches in India.
Two huge defeats, most notably the third and final T20 in Ahmedabad, where New Zealand was bowled out for 66.
“I think it was great learning for the team. If you look through you could argue it was perhaps only Lockie in a regular bowling attack that might be there, so for some of those other guys to get the experiences that they did, in front of 100,000 people, is a pretty cool experience. And whilst India gave us a bit of hiding in that last game that can happen in T20 cricket when you’re chasing such a big score.”
Stead was on an NZC-approved break after being with the team in Pakistan, something the organisation remains committed to, to help its players and staff remain refreshed and mentally sound.
Though it’s left some to question it why it couldn’t happen during other matches, not when games are taking place at venues of a World Cup later in the year.
“You always have those considerations, but one of the things we’re working (through) with our staff is trying to get everyone a period of time off during the summer. It’s a pretty rigorous schedule. And I think especially over that Christmas and New Year period where we had a lot of people away from home and away from families, it’s just trying to balance that up.”
The first of two Tests against England starts in just under two weeks, before Sri Lanka’s tour through March and a return to Pakistan in April.