An embattled New Zealand will go into the needle clash against world champions Australia on Friday sans two crucial members of their support staff. Dayle Shackel (physiotherapist) and Bryan Stronach (trainer) rushed back home to attend their affected families in Christchurch, which was ripped apart by a devastating earthquake in the early hours of Tuesday.
A frazzled looking New Zealand squad arrived in Nagpur late Wednesday afternoon after having spent hours in front of the television to get fresh updates, with many players tweeting their sentiments frequently. But one such tweet by a senior player, Scott Styris, earlier today, created an unnecessary flutter when he remarked that the BCCI had refused to entertain New Zealand's request to borrow Paul Close, the physio at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore. Both John Wright and Dave Currie, New Zealand's coach and manager respectively, denied any such development, saying the BCCI did respond to their request to use Close, but could not release him as he had prior obligations.
"Does anyone know of a physio here in India? Unfortunately the bcci won't let us borrow their kiwi born academy physio whilst ours heads Back to chch to take care of his demolished house? Would only be for a week or so till he comes back," read one of the Styris' posts in the morning. His next tweet indicated that the Australians were happy to lend a helping hand instead. "still hopeful we'll get him, but the aussies will help us out tomo and management have a plan B if nece.so we're all good help is on the way," Styris posted.
Currie said that both Wright and he had been busy all day trying to work out a Plan B to make sure the team had the right support staff in place before both Shackel and Stronach returned in the first days of March. "We think we are fine. If there is a need they [Australia] would provide the support," Currie said. Currie also explained the reasons were serious and compelling for the pair to dash back. "Our physio Dayle had to get back as his property was probably damaged and his family was upset so he went to back to provide some support. Similarly, Bryan's wife is four months pregnant and his house has half come down, so he has gone back to take care of his wife." He made it clear that both are expected back with Shackel likely to return on March 2, two days before New Zealand's third match of the tournament, against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad.
Immediately after their departure was announced, Wright called BCCI top brass and checked if New Zealand could borrow the services of Paul Close, who comes from Auckland. According to Wright the BCCI did check up on his request but explained that it would be virtually impossible to release Close from his duties at the NCA especially because the Indian squad is parked in Bangalore over the next two weeks where they are lined up to play England on February 27 and Ireland on March 6.
"Paul Close was not available because he is still doing some work for the BCCI at the academy," Currie said. "It would've been nice; he is a New Zealander, he would've been fantastic. But he has some responsibilities. We chatted with them [BCCI] about whether that would be possible and they came back saying they would've liked to help but he had obligations and can't be in two places at once. It is not a rejection. Not at all. We understand that."
Wright, instead of drawing up gameplans for Friday's match, had been making desperate calls to get cover for the missing support cast. It is understood that New Zealand have a Plan B with assurance from the Australians to pitch in if need be. In the interim, Wright has already had a word with John Gloster, who was the physio when he was the India coach. Gloster, who is now with the Rajasthan Royals, informed Wright that his plate was full but he would help out with a couple of suggestions of physios in India. Vaibhav Daga, who has toured with many India A teams, is one of the candidates.