Perth: New Zealand quick Lockie Ferguson has been ruled out of the remaining two tests against Australia, but the embattled tourists are confident spearhead Trent Boult will be fit to provide a spark in the pivotal Boxing Day Test.
The hapless Black Caps struggled against an in-form Australia in the first Test at Perth Stadium and were blown away by 296 runs inside four days.
New Zealand have won only one Test in Australia since their sole series triumph across the Tasman Sea in 1985-86 and their prospects of winning a second nose-dived when debutant Ferguson suffered a calf strain on day one and he was unable to bowl.
The 28-year-old bowled just 11 overs at a cost of 47 runs on day one and his horror debut included being denied a maiden Test wicket when Tom Latham dropped Australia talisman Steve Smith at slip.
The fast bowler, who will need five to six weeks to recover, is returning to New Zealand and a replacement for him will be named on Tuesday, coach Gary Stead told reporters on Monday.
Ferguson had himself been a replacement for Boult, who was ruled out of the Perth day-nighter by a rib injury.
New Zealand manfully battled on in fierce heat through tireless bowling from quicks Tim Southee and Neil Wagner but clearly missed Boult’s penchant for swing with the pink ball.
The prognosis for the second Test starting 26 December in Melbourne was more encouraging, however.
“Trent’s going really well, he was probably three or four days short of being ready for the first Test match,” Stead said.
“That was a risk that we weren’t prepared to take given the length of the season and what was left to come.”
New Zealand also have headaches with their misfiring batting order after being scuttled for tame scores of 166 and 171 against an undermanned Australia attack without quick Josh Hazlewood for the majority of the match.
Struggling opener Jeet Raval is under pressure having made just 66 runs in his last nine Test innings, including scoring just one in both innings in Perth.
“These are some hard lessons for him and great experiences as well,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
“In terms of looking forward, just having finished this game, it’s important we reflect on it and any selections will be based upon the surfaces and the squad that we have at the time.”
After Melbourne, the series concludes with the New Year’s Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
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