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Southee leaves door ajar for shock Wagner recall amid O'Rourke doubt

The young quick left the field with a hamstring problem with an update expected on Monday

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
03-Mar-2024
Neil Wagner came on as a substitute fielder during the first Test to loud applause  •  Getty Images

Neil Wagner came on as a substitute fielder during the first Test to loud applause  •  Getty Images

New Zealand captain Tim Southee did not rule out the potential of Neil Wagner being called out of retirement for the second Test against Australia in Christchurch if required with Will O'Rourke's hamstring to be assessed in the next 24 hours.
O'Rourke walked off the field five balls into his eighth over on the third day with tightness in his left hamstring. He did not return to the field for the remainder of Australia's second innings, but he did bat day four and was able to run between the wickets although he was never required to sprint.
Southee admitted New Zealand may have got their selection wrong for the second straight Test match after picking four fast bowlers on a Basin Reserve pitch that spun more than he had ever seen in his 16-year Test career.
Hagley Oval in Christchurch has traditionally been even better for pace bowling and less friendly to spin. If O'Rourke is ruled out, New Zealand do not have a fourth seamer in the squad to call on as Wagner retired after being told he would not be selected for either of the Test matches against Australia.
But with New Zealand 1-0 down in the series, Southee was asked specifically post-match whether Wagner could be recalled for Christchurch and he did not rule it out.
"We haven't had a lot of discussions as yet," Southee said. "We'll see how Will scrubs up. The physio hasn't sort of put a timeframe on it or how bad it is. We'll just wait and see how Will goes over the next couple of days. I'm sure there'll be an update in the next 24 hours
"We obviously have to go on and make a decision on who comes in and what role we sort of see that playing out in Christchurch.
"[Wagner's] had a great reception here over the last week where he got a couple of moments on the field and obviously he's been a fan favorite for a long time."
Southee did rule out the possibility of Trent Boult being recalled given he has been playing T20 cricket only in recent times.
"I don't think his loading is up to it on the back of T20," Southee said.
Southee defended the performance of New Zealand's fourth seamer Scott Kuggeleijn in just his second Test match. Kuggeleijn took two wickets in the first innings but conceded 75 runs in 20 overs with just one maiden. He only bowled three overs in the second innings and conceded 18 runs. He also holed out to deep midwicket off Nathan Lyon for a second-ball duck in the first innings when New Zealand needed someone to dig in alongside Glenn Phillips before making 26 in the second.
"He bowled well at times," Southee said. "It was tough out there with that wind, the job he did, picked up a couple of wickets in the first innings which were crucial. It's obviously a very small sample size in the two matches he's played and there's a bit of time, a year between Test matches as well. It's not easy to come in and make an impact straight away."
Kuggeleijn's pace was down under 130kph at times throughout the match but Southee said the strong Wellington wind had made it tough.
Southee pinpointed that Cameron Green's 174 not out and his 116-run 10th-wicket stand with Josh Hazlewood on the second morning was the difference in the game. He conceded that his team got their strategy wrong to Green.
"I think we probably could have tried to get Green out on that second morning," he said. "I think the way he played that that night before, we thought he was probably going to come out and play some shots. But we probably could look to get him out and on that second morning and make things slightly easier than what we did."

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo