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News

Calf strain rules Lockie Ferguson out of bowling in Perth Test

The debutant quick will, however, be able to bat if required

New Zealand are going to be a bowler short for the remainder of the opening Test against Australia after debutant Lockie Ferguson picked up a right calf strain*, but in Neil Wagner they have a lion-hearted performer who will do all he can to take up the slack.
Ferguson's injury occurred during the second session and he was quickly sent for an MRI scan to determine the extent of the problem. Later, a team statement said, "An MRI scan has confirmed a right calf muscle-tendon strain for Lockie Ferguson which will prevent him bowling in the remainder of the first Test in Perth, although he is available to bat. We are still awaiting a further report which will inform the next steps of his recovery."
The quick had earned his chance after Trent Boult was ruled out having not recovered from the side strain he picked up against England last month. He was denied a notable maiden Test wicket when Steven Smith was dropped at second slip by Tom Latham shortly before tea and pushed the speed gun into the high 140kph region.
"Gutting, ain't it," Wagner said. "It's just one of those things. It's pretty heart-breaking for him. I know he'll be devastated as well. We all obviously get right behind him. Hopefully it's not too bad. We haven't heard anything back yet. Hopefully, you know it's good or better news than what everyone is suspecting. He's a quality player and we would have loved to see him bowl more and see what he could have done."
Ferguson's absence will put a huge onus on Wagner and Tim Southee along with the medium pace of Colin de Grandhomme and left-arm spin of Mitchell Santner. Marnus Labuschagne, who finished the opening day unbeaten on 110, knows it's a situation Australia can take advantage of.
"They do have an allrounder in their side so it does lighten the load a little, but it's a massive advantage if we can really bat well tomorrow and keep them out there. We just have to keep putting those runs on the board."
New Zealand pulled through impressively in the final session of an oppressively hot opening day, taking two key wickets either side of the new ball when Wagner bounced out Smith and Southee removed Matthew Wade.
The success against Smith, caught at leg gully hooking at Wagner, as he was against Ferguson during the World Cup match at Lord's earlier this year, was an especially pleasing case of a plan coming together.
"We've got him out like that before, once before, and we've seen him get out to it again," Wagner said. "No doubt he's a quality player. You want to bowl your best at him and dry him up. I thought we bowled really well to him, didn't give him any width, or any room to score, the key was to try and dot him up and hopefully he would come at us. He didn't give us much until that shot he got out to...and luckily it worked out."
The other highlight for Wagner was his stunning return catch to dismiss David Warner. "It was a nice catch," he said. "At first I thought it as a bump ball and he'd hit it into the ground until it really got to him. Was one of those that went to hand and stuck."
Aside from Boult, the other pace bowler in the New Zealand squad is Matt Henry. After this Test in Perth there is a nine-day gap before the second Test in Melbourne.
* Updated at 2.47am GMT on December 13 after the official statement

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo