New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is unlikely to undergo surgery for his troublesome elbow, but could be out of action for around two months, according to head coach Gary Stead.
New Zealand next assignment after the just-concluded India tour is a two-Test series at home against Bangladesh, which begins on New Year's Day, followed by a white-ball tour of Australia. If Williamson's rehab goes according to plan, he might be available for the subsequent home Test series against South Africa in February although Stead insisted that no timeframe has been set for his comeback.
The elbow injury has been a long-standing issue for Williamson. It had flared up in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in the UAE, where Williamson cut short his stints at the nets to manage the injury, and troubled him in India as well. He sat out the second Test in Mumbai, with Tom Latham taking over as captain in his place.
"I think surgery is unlikely," Stead said before returning to New Zealand with the rest of the squad. "With the tendon injuries around the elbow, my understanding of the situation from talking to our physio [Tommy Simsek] is all surgery would do is ensure rehab is done. If we don't have to cut a tendon, our choice is not to do that as well.
"So Kane is going along okay. I expect it to be a sustained period of time. Last time, if you look after the World Test Championship [final] and before the IPL and T20 World Cup, was about eight or nine weeks. So, I expect it's somewhere in that timeframe again… We're trying not to put timeframes on it at this stage."
'Got to go home and speak with selectors and Ross' Ross Taylor had a particularly dismal tour of India, managing a mere 20 runs in four innings. He hit his nadir in New Zealand's second innings at the Wankhede Stadium where he threw his bat at each of the eight balls he faced before he skied a slog-sweep off R Ashwin and was dismissed for 6.
Stead pointed out that Taylor's lack of game-time - he had not played a single competitive game between the World Test Championship final in June and the Test leg of the India tour in November-December - contributed to his struggles.
"Ross has had a disappointing tour by his standards, but he's been an exceptional player for New Zealand for a long, long period of time," Stead said. "So he's not the only guy that has come to India or Asian conditions and struggled over here. I think there's some factors behind it, with the lack of match-time beforehand. We had a number of trainings or a couple of trainings before the second Test that was washed out as well.
"I think Ross will look back and be disappointed at that himself. It's a fine balance here, though, between trying to play aggressively and put the spinners under some pressure and also trusting your defence to bat for long periods.
"If you look throughout the whole Test, I think Mayank Agarwal was one of the few players that actually managed to do that and we still went past his outside edge on a regular basis as well. I think there were only two-three players in the whole Test match that reached 50 and Agarwal was obviously the exception in getting to a 150."
Williamson's injury-enforced absence means Taylor could still start the home Test series against Bangladesh at Bay Oval in the new year. Taylor is also three Tests away from becoming New Zealand's most capped player in the format, but considering the progress of fringe players like Will Young, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra, Taylor's No.4 spot isn't as certain as it once was.
"I think the thing that's encouraging for our team is we have more options now than what we did have a year or two years ago," Stead said. "You've seen the emergence of Will Young and Daryl Mitchell, in particular, who have come onto the Test scene and done really well.
"But let's not also forget that Ross Taylor has an amazing record behind him as well. He's been one of New Zealand's premier batsmen for a long, long period of time, and you don't lose that class just over one tour.
"I've got to get home and speak with the selectors and have a conversation with Ross as well, around where he sees his game going forward."