Bracewell could bolster tiring NZ attack
Doug Bracewell could feature in the final Test against England if he comes through his Ford Trophy one-day outing on Wednesday with Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, admitting that his bowlers were "hanging by a thread" at one point during the Wellington encounter.
By the time England were bowled out for 465 on the second day at the Basin Reserve, New Zealand had spent 317 overs in the field since the beginning of the visitors' second innings in Dunedin. Although Hesson said they had all come through unscathed, and felt it had worked in New Zealand's favour that they did not field for the final three days in Wellington, he acknowledged the demands of three Tests in three weeks on his pacemen.
"It's been great for us that we haven't had to bowl the last three days," he said. "Our guys were hanging on by a thread there for a while. It's great to see they've had a decent break. I assume they'll be fine but we need to show some due diligence.
"The three we've got have done a great job, so we've basically brought in Doug and got Ian [Butler] there as cover. We'll see how guys scrub up in Auckland because to play three Tests on the bounce is hard work for any seam attack."
Neil Wagner has nine wickets in the series, but Trent Boult and Tim Southee have just four and one respectively for their efforts. Bracewell, 22, missed the first two Tests after cutting his foot cleaning up glass after a party at his house the day before linking up with the squad in Dunedin. He had been expected to feature in the first-choice attack for the series having taken 46 in 15 Tests. There was hope he would recover in time for Wellington, but has only recently been able to put his full weight back on the foot.
"It's certainly good to have him back in the mix," Hesson said. "It was an unfortunate incident. Hopefully he can get through tomorrow, 10 overs under his belt, and we will see how he scrubs up."
Another bowler making a comeback from injury, although much further from a national recall than Bracewell, is Daniel Vettori. He remains hopeful of being available for the England tour in May and, with potentially only one domestic game left in the season, is hoping to use the IPL to gain further match fitness.
However, while Hesson said that New Zealand had missed Vettori in recent times - he has not played internationally since the World Twenty20 and his previous Test was in West Indies last July - he was also strong in his praise of Bruce Martin who has filled the spinner role in this series and claimed nine wickets in his first two Tests.
"All signs are he's made good progress so we'll see how he goes over the next few days," Hesson said. "We've missed him for six months, not only the experience he brings but also the skill he brings. Let's hope his recovery over the next few weeks goes well. To be fair Bruce Martin hasn't put a foot wrong…he has certainly shown that he's a good campaigner."
Two other members already in the Test squad who have not feature in the series, Tom Latham and Ian Butler, will play their Ford Trophy games on Wednesday before joining the national squad for the final Test. The deciding Test in Auckland begins Friday.
New Zealand squad for Auckland Test: Brendon McCullum (capt), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell (pending getting through Ford Trophy game on Wednesday), Dean Brownlie, Ian Butler, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, Bruce Martin, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk), Kane Williamson.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo