Bracewell out of first Test
Seamer Doug Bracewell has been ruled out of the opening Test with England due to his injured foot.
Bracewell was scheduled to have a fitness test at Dunedin’s University Oval today, to determine his chances of playing in the first of three Tests.
But his injury, thought likely to heal in time for next week’s second game in Wellington, was severe enough to rule him out of team practice and all contention to play this week.
Veteran seamer Ian Butler, called up initially as cover, is therefore in the reckoning to play his first Test in more than eight years if the Black Caps decide to stick with an all-pace attack.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and captain Brendon McCullum today both addressed the issues surrounding how Bracewell came to cut his foot so badly on a broken glass at home over the weekend.
The suggestion that alcohol had played any part in the accident was quashed - with both men apparently satisfied, like their employers at New Zealand Cricket, to accept Bracewell’s version of events.
Bracewell has explained, privately, that he hurt himself while cleaning up after a party at his house in Napier. Hesson acknowledged that Bracewell’s absence is a blow for the hosts.
“It’s really disappointing for Doug and the team, because he’s a crucial part of our seam attack,” said the coach.
“There’s been speculation that, while he’s been away (from home), there have been functions he’s unaware of - but in terms of this Test, he’s got a hole in his foot.”
Bracewell, it seems, was not even close to being fit.
“Unfortunately his foot hasn’t recovered in time ... he can’t put any weight on it,” added Hesson. “The physio said there was no chance. He will stay with us during the week and be ready for the second Test.”
Hesson was able to clarify how Bracewell injured his foot, however. “What I understand (is) he was cleaning up after having a group of people over to watch the rugby. There’s not a lot we can do when he’s away from the side.
“We’ve got really good standards in terms of the expectations we have on our players. They are also human and spend a lot of time away from the group.
“There is the expectation that what they do does not affect their preparation, and we are pretty strong with that.”
McCullum is disappointed to be without his frontline bowler, but suspects some coverage of Bracewell’s injury has been exaggerated.
“I think the Doug situation has been blown out of proportion,” he said. “It was an accident which was unfortunate, because it has ruled him out of a match he was hoping to be at his best for. A lot more has been made of it than needed to be.
“Doug was certainly a big part of our plans. But it’s not to be, and Neil Wagner gets a chance in that third-seamer role.”