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Lockie Ferguson keeps his sights on Test cricket during comeback trail

The fast bowler is hoping to face Bangladesh in T20s later this month after another frustrating injury-hit season

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Lockie Ferguson got his coveted Test debut in Perth in mid-December, but couldn't make it through the game due to injury

Lockie Ferguson's Test debut in Perth was cut short by injury  •  Associated Press

Lockie Ferguson is holding out hope that he can still earn a place in New Zealand's squad for the World Test Championship final and the preceding matches against England despite another season disrupted by injury.
Ferguson is making good progress in his recovery from the stress fracture of his back which has sidelined him since the middle of December and is hopeful of being available for the T20Is against Bangladesh as previously flagged by New Zealand coach Gary Stead.
"That's the aim, it's a bit of process so can't make the call right now," he said of facing Bangladesh. "Certainly there's some boxes to tick, but definitely the way things have been tracking it's been going really well that's certainly the goal."
Despite competition for spots in all formats, Ferguson's standing in the white-ball game is pretty secure, although it remains to be seen whether there is an element of rotation to keep players fresh.
Test cricket is a bit harder to gauge, not least because Ferguson would have to get past Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson for a spot in the starting XI although if fit he would surely feature in any extended squad for the trip to the UK which follows the IPL where he has a deal with Kolkata Knight Riders.
That tournament could keep him, and a few other players, out of the Test series against England depending on final dates of the IPL with the indication that franchises will be able to keep hold of their overseas players for the knockouts.
However, Ferguson holds Test cricket in very high regard and is eager to add to his one cap which came against Australia, in Perth, in late 2019 and which ended after 11 overs due to a calf injury that limited last season for him before the pandemic hit.
"I've always talked very highly of Test cricket and the want to play it," he said. "Certainly my closest focus is to get back on the park and play, it's been enjoyable watching the Test boys and stoked they made the final which is going to be super exciting.
"Think the best thing for me and the team is to get back playing a decent amount of cricket, get that loading behind me, then I certainly want to be in the mix for selection for the UK trip but that's a couple of months down the line so we'll cross that bridge later on."
Despite the amount of T20 on the calendar this season, which now includes a stint in the T20 Blast with Yorkshire, and concludes with the World Cup in India during October, Ferguson is not making it is sole focus although acknowledges Test cricket presents different challenges
"Certainly to play in the Test Championship would be very special as well…but at the same time have to focus on what's coming up and make sure I'm ready to go," he said. "The Test demands are much higher than T20 in terms of loading, so from that point of view it takes some time to build up. Give your body a chance to adjust to playing a lot of cricket then you can make a decision."
Ferguson does not have any worries about returning from the back injury, reasoning that the risk of injury will always go alongside trying to bowl at 150kph.
"I've always pushed my body to the limits and to do what I do you need to," he said. "With that comes risk of getting injured, the forces are that much greater that go through the body. Unfortunately, this injury kept me out a while but you certainly can't dwell on that
"There were a lot of injuries coming out of that big break that international sportsman had from Covid. It's interesting watching players come back to the intensity of international sport, not just cricket, and getting injured. There's a few things to think about, a few areas to tighten the bolts, work on the body a bit more, build strength and build my core."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo