Will Young to bat at No. 3 after showing strong County Championship form for Durham
“It’s not an easy decision for Kane to have to miss a Test, but we think it’s the right one,” Gary Stead, New Zealand’s head coach, said. “He’s had an injection in his elbow to relieve the irritation he’s been experiencing when he bats and a period of rest and rehabilitation will help maximise his recovery.”
The injury is not expected to rule him out of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against India, which starts on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl. “The decision has been made very much with the ICC World Test Championship final at Southampton in mind and we are confident he will be ready for that match,” Stead added.
“I’m sure he’ll be back [for the final],” Latham said. “From our point of view, it’s a precautionary thing. We’d love him to be available for this game but obviously we’ve got the eye on the final in a week’s time, so for Kane, it’s about giving himself the best opportunity to be fully fit and available for that game. The decision was made for him to rest and get that right for what we have coming up.
“He’s fantastic as a captain. It’s well-documented how his personality and his calm nature out in the middle has been vital to this group. He’s very relaxed – doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low which I think has been great for this side in recent years. He’s obviously a wonderful leader and we’ve seen that throughout his captaincy career.”
Young prepared for the series by playing four County Championship matches for Durham, scoring hundreds in two of his three most recent innings. He will bat at No. 3, with Latham and Devon Conway continuing to open the batting.
“He’s been here a few weeks earlier [than the rest of the squad] and was playing cricket,” Latham said. “He had an opportunity back in our home summer and is coming off runs for Durham which is always nice when you get selected, especially in these conditions, so it’s another exciting opportunity for Will to put his hand up and try to put that performance on the board.”
“It’s a case-by-case situation,” he said. “There is an eye to what we have coming up in a week’s time but on the other hand this is obviously such an important game for us. We’ve got training now and then we’ll have a look at the wicket and have those conversations around what best suits the playing XI tomorrow. We’ve got a big squad to pick from.”
While New Zealand’s thinking has clearly been influenced by the proximity of the WTC final, Latham said that the squad were not taking the opportunity to win a series in England for the first time since 1999 for granted.
“Beating England is higher on our priority list [than the WTC final],” he said. “We’ve got such a great opportunity to come here and try to play our brand of cricket and put on a performance that we’re proud of. Yes, there is an eye to the final in a week’s time, but our focus is solely on this game and the next five days.
“To win away from home is not an easy thing around the world nowadays, and if we can put the performance on the board that we know we’re capable off, fingers crossed that will give us a good chance to be successful after the five days.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98