World Cup 2015: New Zealand March 22, 2015

Milne ruled out of New Zealand tilt


Play 01:51
Conditions will determine Milne's replacement - McCullum

Matt Henry faces the prospect of being parachuted from outside the New Zealand squad into the World Cup semi-final against South Africa after fellow fast bowler Adam Milne was ruled out of remainder of the tournament with a heel injury.

Milne, 22, underwent an MRI scan on Sunday after experiencing discomfort in his left heel. Mike Hesson said the problem had been an issue for two weeks but was manageable until after the quarter-final against West Indies. The amount of swelling will not allow him to play in the final week of the tournament, with New Zealand hoping to secure a first World Cup semi-final win at the seventh attempt and progress to Melbourne.

Henry joined up with New Zealand on Sunday when they arrived in Auckland, trained the day before the semi-final and was given ICC approval as a replacement late on Monday afternoon.

He was considered unlucky to miss out on the original squad after impressing in New Zealand's win over Pakistan in the UAE before Christmas. He has 21 wickets at 15.42 from eight ODI appearances and will provide competition for McClenaghan and Kyle Mills to replace Milne with the feeling growing on the eve of the semi-final that he was already the favourite.

Brendon McCullum said the team "did not have to roll out the same game plan" they have used during the tournament but added it had served them well which hinted at Henry standing a good chance of being a like-for-like replacement for Milne.

"We probably need to have another look at the wicket tomorrow, look at the overhead conditions, as well, and try and factor all those things in," McCullum said. "But I think you've seen the way we've operated with Adam in that third seamer role has worked quite well for us coming in after our two opening bowlers swinging the ball; the role that he's been able to play has been very good."

A factor in Henry's favour is that he has been playing regular cricket, albeit the red-ball version, in the Plunket Shield while the reserves in the New Zealand have been left with endless net sessions to keep themselves sharp. Since featuring in two matches against Sri Lanka in January, when acting as cover for Mills, Henry has taken 20 wickets in five matches for Canterbury including six in the most recent outing against Central Districts in Nelson. However, his numbers in the one-day Ford Trophy are far less compelling: three wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 7.29.

McClenaghan is the only player outside the first-choice XI to have appeared in the tournament, when he replaced Milne for the game against Bangladesh, but he had a poor outing as he conceded 68 runs off eight overs. Mills, meanwhile, does not provide the pace that came from Milne although the experience of 170 ODIs cannot be discounted in a World Cup semi-final.

Despite the scenario having emerged of New Zealand needing to make a change for a knockout match, McCullum stood by the decision to make as few alterations as possible during the group stage even once the team had comfortably qualified.

"I think seven from seven is a testament to the strategy that we've rolled out," he said. "We're very confident in every member of the squad that we have here, and if Matt gets brought into the squad officially, then we're obviously confident in him, as well. We talked before the tournament, as well, about the guys that sat on the periphery of the squad and how they were unlucky to obviously miss out initially.

"Matt is one of those guys who now if he does get brought in, then he has the opportunity to come out there and perform, and we'll back him immensely, just as the guys who have been sitting on the sidelines."

Milne played in six out of New Zealand's seven matches and although he only took five wickets, at a cost of 39.80, his extra pace provided a valuable contrast with the rest of the seam attack. The absence of his fielding should not be discounted, either, after he repeatedly showed his athleticism in the outfield during the tournament, especially with the catches he took against England and Afghanistan. McCullum confirmed Milne would remain with the squad during the semi-final.

"Adam has been outstanding for us in that third seamer role throughout the tournament," he said. "It's really disappointing for Adam but he'll remain part of the squad, which is good, because he's a good team man, as well, good fellow to have around."

It is not the first time Milne's body has let him down. At the start of the New Zealand season he was ruled out of the series against South Africa with an elbow injury which followed an abdominal muscle strain against India last year. Back in early 2013 he missed a one-day series in South Africa due to an Achilles problem.

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fergus on March 23, 2015, 21:36 GMT

    Said from the very start that Henry should have been there instead of Mills. This tournament has shown that the days of seamers operating at 130 kph are gone.

  • S on March 23, 2015, 20:03 GMT

    Don't know why Mills is in the squad. Henry is an exciting young bowler who should have been named in the original squad instead of Mills who is past his prime. Henry can become a great ODI bowler if taken good care.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2015, 17:29 GMT

    I have no idea why people have been talking about Milne being such a huge loss - he has not contributed much at all with the ball although his outfielding has been fantastic. In 2012 McClenaghan had 40 wickets@ 19 but has not reached those same heights since and has not been at his best. Mills is good first up but cannot take wickets at any other stage of the game plus we already have two opening bowlers. Henry has had a lot of recent success in ODI cricket and is a fantastic all round cricket who should and most probably will play this semi-final.

  • Barry on March 23, 2015, 12:43 GMT

    I have changed my mind. Although Henry could do the job, agree with the great Martin Crowe - McClenaghan should get the nod. Had a bad outing in his last gig, but I kind of think that wickets will be key to winning tomorrow and he is a wicket taking bowler. He'll probably be expensive, but if he gets 2-3 critical wickets, he'll be worth it. Also like the fact McClenaghan is a left armer, and fairly quick, and it is left arm quicks that have done well in this world cup.

    Mills is a real risk at his pace. mid 120's is just too slow. Henry could do the job, but I think it is a huge ask to step up into tomorrow's frying pan with no exposure at this level. Tommorrow is not a day to get exposed - it's do or die.

  • Garry on March 23, 2015, 11:49 GMT

    People saying that SA have never seen Henry bowl before is incorrect - and a 20/20 game where Henry batted well -

  • A.J on March 23, 2015, 10:55 GMT

    Leggar, I agree that McClenaghan's record is very flattering and probably not an accurate indicator of his ability. Henry is also a very promising potential bowling allrounder adding value with the bat. He should have been the third seamer this whole time, scratch that, Southee should have been the third seamer.

  • rob on March 23, 2015, 9:05 GMT

    Everybody was excited about Henry and his performances leading up the world cup, but it makes a big difference if you have been part of the winning squad over the last month. Coming cold into the cauldron of a semi-final is asking a huge amount from any player, no matter how strong their recent domestic form. I would have liked to see him in the squad ahead of McClenaghan whose record flatters his ability. He is always expensive and when he doesn't get wickets he is a real liability, especially as he is not as gifted a fielder. Despite Mills lack of pace he has proved time and time again that he bowls the right length, gets good bounce and has enough variety, but he is most effective bowling all ten at the top which is what Boult has been doing. Keep the current pattern, opt for Henry and wish him well.

  • kyronxavier12 on March 23, 2015, 8:53 GMT

    Alot of pressure on young Henry to step up into this cauldron...I feel Mills will get the nod based on his experience and familiarity of Eden Park.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2015, 8:31 GMT

    i think mcclenaghan better than henry

  • jared on March 23, 2015, 8:14 GMT

    I've been saying for a while that henry is the best bowler in the country but I think boult might have something to say about that. it would be a massive ask coming in cold but he's good enough. McCullum is keeping his cards close to his chest, he's a smart guy, keep South Africa guessing but if you look at the squad I think McClenaghan was always cover for boult, mills was cover for southee and henry was always going to replace milne if he got crook. They tried mitch to perform that role but it didn't really work, not saying he can't do it and his record against SA is very good but McCullum will want to stick to what has worked for him he will want that 140km + bowler as his third seamer, he wants aggression, he wants wicket takers and he wants to stick to the plan, henry gives him that, if not give me mills in a crunch match and change tack completely

  • No featured comments at the moment.