New South Wales suffered a major blow on the eve of their first match of the domestic season, after the captain Peter Nevill sustained a broken thumb while batting in the notoriously speedy WACA Ground nets ahead of their opening match of the One Day Cup against Western Australia on Tuesday.
Nevill has duly been ruled out of the whole tournament, with a recovery plan geared at getting him back to full fitness in time for the start of the Sheffield Shield in mid-October. Named as full-time captain of the Blues during the pre-season, Nevill now hands leadership over to the left-handed batsman Kurtis Patterson, who recently returned from the Australia A tour of India.
Wicketkeeping duties will be taken over by Jay Lenton, the Sydney Thunder gloveman, who will fly across the country from NSW to play in Perth on Tuesday. "It's obviously very disappointing to break your thumb," Nevill said. "But we are confident there is no surgery required, it should heal well, and I am hoping to be back for the start of the Sheffield Shield season.
"I want to be around the group, we have worked very hard to be in a good position. I'll be hanging around in Perth for the first few games to help out in any way I can, and hopefully watch the boys have a successful couple of games here.
"We are very fortunate to have Kurtis Patterson, it will be a seamless transition for him. Jay kept very well in our internal trial matches a few weeks ago and will come in and do a very good job for the team."
Phil Jaques, the NSW coach, was understandably frustrated to lose Nevill after the pair worked assiduously together over the off-season to reshape the Blues programme after several years of underperformance, particularly in the Shield. "It's never ideal to lose your skipper on the eve of the tournament," Jaques said.
"Nev has put in a lot of hard work throughout the off-season and he will be sorely missed. It's a great opportunity for Kurtis. We named him vice-captain at the start of the pre-season, and that was a well-deserved appointment for Kurtis. It will be great for him to step up and get some experience in the captaincy role. It's a good opportunity for Jay to put his name forward and play a role in the JLT One-Day Cup. We know that Jay is a very good player and he will do a good job in Nev's absence."
Another injury removed the South Australia swing and seam bowler Daniel Worrall from calculations early in the tournament, as the Redbacks prepare for their opening match, also against NSW in Perth on Thursday. SA's team performance manager Tim Nielsen said that escalating back pain had forced Worrall out of the squad, his place taken by the young allrounder Luke Robins.
"Daniel's been experiencing lower back pain which escalated at training this past week, and he will now return to Adelaide for further assessment," Nielsen said. "We are disappointed for Daniel but by returning to Adelaide the medical team can investigate the cause of the injury and the best direction for his return to play.
"We now welcome Luke Robins into the squad who is an exciting allrounder and was the leading wicket-taker in the Futures League last season."
Western Australia, meanwhile, will be missing Marcus Stoinis, D'Arcy Short and Matthew Kelly for the opening game. Short suffered a freakish injury - bitten by his dog - but the other two have more conventional complaints. "All three players will be reassessed prior to Saturday's game against South Australia, and are on track to be available for selection early in the tournament," the WACA sports science manager, Nick Jones said.
"D'Arcy had an unlucky incident two weeks ago while playing with his dog, where his hand got in the way of a dog toy and the bite caused a deep laceration to the palm of his hand. He needed a few stitches and surgical washout but has returned to batting and catching balls this week, and is on track for selection in round two.
"Marcus and Matt are both very close to being cleared to play, but we would prefer not to rush anyone back at the beginning of the season and want to ensure they have fully recovered from injury before returning to play."
Simon Mackin, Will Bosisto and Sam Whiteman have taken the temporarily vacant places in the squad.