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News

Cyclone Gabrielle prevents NZ squad members from reaching Mount Maunganui

Mount Maunganui hasn't been affected too badly, but both sets of players have been forced to train indoors

Cyclone Gabrielle meant rough seas around Goat Island Marine Reserve, Auckland, February 13, 2023

While there is a forecast for a break in the rain on Wednesday, further disruptions are expected on Thursday  •  Getty Images

New Zealand began their preparations for the first Test against England without a full deck as Cyclone Gabrielle wreaked havoc on the travel plans of a number of their squad members. They trained on Monday morning at Bay Oval without Tom Blundell, Henry Nicholls, Matt Henry, Will Young, Blair Tickner and three support staff after sweeping rains and high winds caused widespread disruptions across the North Island.
New Zealand Cricket confirmed that Tickner and Young were on their way by car from Napier, while Nicholls was due to arrive on Thursday from Christchurch (South Island) after his original flight was cancelled. Blundell is currently with his family in Wellington following the birth of his second child. Henry, meanwhile, is in Christchurch awaiting the birth of his first child and there is uncertainty over when he would be able to join the rest of the squad.
Situated on the eastern entrance to the Tauranga Harbour, Mount Maunganui has not been as badly affected by the cyclone, but inclement weather meant training for both teams took place in the Bay Oval Indoor Grass Training Facility. New Zealand had originally planned for an evening training session but were advised to shift their plans forward with winds expected to worsen.
While there is a forecast for a break in the rain on Wednesday, further disruptions are expected when the day-night Test gets underway on Thursday.
Though international long-haul flights have been given the go-ahead to land in Auckland on Monday, scores of short-haul local flights have been cancelled. Air New Zealand has cancelled all its domestic flights until Tuesday. All regional flights in and out of Tauranga (which services Mount Maunganui), Hamilton and Taupo have also been cancelled for the same period.
"We've got a number of players that are still arriving here at the moment," New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. "So the cyclone that's happening at the top of the North Island has had a wee bit of an impact on travel for some people. It's disappointing the weather the way it is but there's a lot of people up at the top of the North Island who are a lot worse off than us."
The weather has also meant the Powhiri (a Maori welcoming ceremony) scheduled for February 14 has been cancelled.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo