New Zealand head coach Gary Stead revealed that the UK’s updated quarantine protocols advanced Trent Boult’s preparation by a few days and claimed that the pacer will be available for selection for the second Test. Stead also said that the fitness of several other players will need to be assessed.
New Zealand have received a shot in the arm ahead of the second Test in Edgbaston as Trent Boult, who missed the first Test after opting to take a mini-break, is in line to feature in the second Test, starting June 10. Boult arrived in England mid-way through the first Test and was expected to spend a handful of days in quarantine but the UK Government’s updated quarantine protocols mean that the left-armer will now be available for selection for the second Test.
The news was confirmed by New Zealand head coach Gary Stead, who admitted that there is a ‘chance’ that Boult will play the Edgbaston Test. Stead insisted that a decision will be taken based on how Boult holds up in the next few days.
"There's a chance (that Boult might play), there are a few things that have changed. The British government has relaxed their quarantine stipulations so Trent is out of isolation three or four days earlier than expected,” Stead said on Sunday.
"The original plan we had in place with all the information we had at the time was we weren't going to play him in the second Test, but coming out of that isolation probably three days earlier than what we originally anticipated does put a slightly different spin on it. So we'll weigh up the pros and cons and work out with Trent what we think is the best course forward to make sure he is fit and raring to go for that final.
"Trent is more keen than he was a week ago and that's because he's over here now, he's part of the environment. Probably right now it's a bit early to make that call, he's only been here 48 hours and probably still suffering a little bit of jet lag."
Should Boult be cleared to play, then the New Zealand management will have a tricky selection call to make. Adding the left-armer as a fourth specialist seamer might be a straightforward decision on paper, but all of Wagner, Southee and Jamieson enduring rough workloads at Lord’s means that there is also the temptation to rest one of the three, replacing them with Boult. Stead revealed that he will assess the bowlers’ fitness levels before making the decisive call.
"We have to manage all the bowlers. Haven't had that conversation yet with Tim. He bowled really well, he's a work horse and loves the hard work. Again, a conversation we'll have with our support staff in the morning to see where everyone is at and scrub up before we make that firm decision."
New Zealand, surprisingly, picked Mitchell Santner as the specialist spinner for the Lord’s Test, but it is a decision that did not bear fruit as the left-arm spinner went wicketless across both the innings. But despite the wickets column suggesting otherwise, Stead insisted that Santner bowled well, and claimed that the 29-year-old was unlucky to not have taken wickets. Stead further hinted that New Zealand might yet again field a specialist spinner in the second Test.
"I thought Mitch bowled really well, that first innings in particular, and could easily have picked up two or three wickets, cleaned them up 50-60 runs earlier. If that had been the case the game might have looked different.
"It's hard when you look at a five-day game to not consider a spinner. At various times it's always good to have those different options. The pitches here provide us a with a slightly different outlook to what they do in New Zealand."
Should New Zealand win the second Test in Edgbaston, they will become the first team to win a Test series in England since Sri Lanka managed to do so in 2014.