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Henry Nicholls faces race to be fit for opening England Test

The left hander will fly out with the squad at the weekend but remains under a fitness cloud

ESPNcricinfo staff
09-May-2022 • Updated on 11-May-2022
Henry Nicholls drives through the off side, New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st Test, Christchurch, 2nd day, February 18, 2022

Henry Nicholls is an important part of New Zealand's middle order  •  Getty Images

Henry Nicholls has been cleared to travel to England this weekend but may be struggling to be fit for the opening Test at Lord's after picking up a grade one calf strain during a pre-tour training camp.
Nicholls, the left-handed middle-order player, underwent a scan on his right calf on Tuesday after picking up the injury doing running drills in Mount Maunganui. The positive news was that he has not suffered a tear but he still faces uncertainty and is unlikely to play a full part in the two warm-up matches at the end of the month.
"While it's a positive that Henry hasn't torn the calf, the next two to three weeks are going to be crucial in terms of his recovery and subsequent availability for the Test series," head coach Gary Stead said. "Calves can be a challenge to rehab and we will need to minimise the risk of him re-injuring himself with any return to match action."
Nicholls is a key part of New Zealand's Test side having made eight centuries in 46 matches with an average of 40.38. Daryl Mitchell, who is one of five members of the Test squad currently at the IPL, would be in the frame to replace Nicholls in the middle-order if required with Rachin Ravindra another option who would also be able to provide some spin bowling.
"Henry's obviously an important player for us at number five and we know he'll be doing everything he can to make himself available," Stead said
New Zealand face England in three Tests during June with the opening match beginning at Lord's on June 2.
There remains a question mark over when the IPL-based players - Mitchell, Kane Williamson, Devon Conway, Trent Boult and Tim Southee - will join the tour depending on the progress of their franchises.
Initially an enlarged 20-player squad has been named to cover for those absences with a reduced 15 names expected to be confirmed before the opening Test.