Shane Bond, the New Zealand fast bowler, has been ruled out of his team's opening match of the Champions Trophy, against South Africa, in Mumbai on Monday with a "stiffness and restriction" in the back. This is the latest setback in a long line of back trouble that Bond has suffered.
"Shane Bond won't be considered for tomorrow's match," said Linsay Crocker, the New Zealand manager, at a pre-match press conference. "Shane suffered some stiffness and restriction of movement in his back in the warm-up match against Baroda at MIG Club on Friday.
"He was keen to bowl today in preparation for tomorrow but we've taken a long-term view with Shane and decided it's best he doesn't bowl today or tomorrow and begins preparations for the next match on Tuesday."
The news came as a blow to New Zealand ahead of their crucial match against South Africa, but Stephen Fleming, the captain, was as unruffled as ever, and took the news in his stride. "It's disappointing. It's not good news before a big game, but it's news we've had in the past and we've been able to deal with before," said Fleming. "While the team is extremely disappointed for Shane, we still think that, given the nature of the pitch, we have opportunities with our bowlers to still be competitive."
Fleming underscored the need to take a long-term view in the case of recurring injuries with key players, and explained New Zealand's stance on Bond. "When you have a player who has long-term back problems it is always a concern when that back problem gives restrictions. What we've tried to do with Shane is be conservative," he said. "We're not looking at just this tournament, we're looking at ones after this, especially the World Cup. If we can get him through to that, that would be nice. That is the long-term aim which is part of the reason why we're not playing him tomorrow."
With Scott Styris also not 100 % fit - he suffered a hamstring twinge during a warm-up match - New Zealand have not got off to the start they wanted off the field. However, Styris was still in contention for a place in the final eleven, and depending on how his fitness held up in practice on the day before the match, he could still make the cut and play a part.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo