Injured Black Caps captain Kane Williamson has made a crucial step to recovery from a fractured thumb that has seen him sidelined from the last two Cricket World Cup matches.
Providing an update following the team’s arrival in Pune for their match against South Africa, coach Gary Stead said Williamson had been in the nets and his progression is “encouraging”.
“Kane Williamson hit cricket balls for the first time yesterday, which is encouraging. [It was] low-level intensity but he will train tomorrow and the next day with a view to potentially being available for this game.”
As to whether he will in fact be available, Stead said his progress across the next two days will be the deciding factor.
“That will depend on just how he comes through the nets in the next couple of days.”
Kane Williamson has been in the nets in preparation for a return to the field. Photo / Getty Images
Williamson has a fracture in his left thumb after he was struck by a painful blow from an errant throw while he was running between the wickets against Bangladesh.
The 33-year-old continued to bat for a few overs after receiving initial treatment but, with the Black Caps comfortably on track to overhaul Bangladesh’s 245-9, he eventually left the field on 78 for an X-ray on the damaged digit, which subsequently revealed the fracture.
Fast bowler Lockie Ferguson and all-rounder Mark Chapman are also under injury clouds and Stead gave updates on both of their situations as well.
Ferguson was forced from the field against Australia with a suspected Achilles injury and Stead confirmed that was the case.
“He’s woken up feeling a little bit better than what he has, but he will be getting a scan tomorrow morning here in Pune and from there we’ll be able to give you more of an update on what that looks like for Lockie, but we’re hopeful it’s maybe something just about a week in terms of return to play.
“Again it’s something he’s had in the past it’s niggled away, it’s just flared up again at perhaps a bad time for him.”
Chapman’s calf injury was deemed a “niggle” but Stead was unable to give a firm timeframe on his return but, like Williamson, his progress was tracking well.
“He had a calf niggle. We’re unsure at this stage that he will play in the next game or be available but he’s progressed well and he’s not far away from being selectable again.”
The match against Australia broke records for the most runs scored in a Cricket World Cup match, which Stead described as ”incredible”.
“It was an incredible game of cricket. I think when you have a 380 plays 370 in a match ... it was high scoring, there was drama all the way through. Aussie obviously got away to a flier, we weren’t at our best.”
The Black Caps didn’t make it easy on themselves as they had chances to stem the flow of runs but dropped a number of relatively simple catches.
“We dropped a few catches as well, which is a little bit uncharacteristic of us, but I thought the way that Glenn Phillips, and Rachin and Santner as well, pulled it together through those middle overs was really encouraging,” said Stead.
In response to Australia’s mammoth total, the Black Caps didn’t shy from the challenge and came just five runs short of victory, with Stead saying he couldn’t have asked for much more from his batters.
“With the bat, I’m not sure we can ask too much more than what went on.”
Will Toogood is an online sports editor for the NZ Herald. He has previously worked for Newstalk ZB’s digital team and at Waiheke’s Gulf News, covering sport and events.
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