A freak injury while out running confirmed Mark Gillespie as New Zealand's unluckiest cricketer of recent times.
But those close to the shattered Wellington fast bowler are confident he'll bounce back to reclaim his test spot.
Gillespie was officially scratched yesterday from the test squad to face the West Indies because of a severe ankle sprain suffered last month which requires him to wear a moon boot for another three weeks. The ankle hadn't responded to treatment and Gillespie made the decision to stay home.
The injury news arrived hot on the heels of one of the more controversial decisions by a New Zealand selection panel – to omit Gillespie from the 20-strong contract list despite a storming test comeback against South Africa.
"Mark was devastated. He thought he'd done enough and he really wanted a contract and to be an important player in the Black Caps setup," Cricket Wellington's director of cricket Robbie Kerr said.
"He's got to rise above that and he can certainly play every test, once this series is over. He's still got wickets to take, and as of the last test he was the best test bowler in the country."
Two tests in India in late August might arrive too soon, leaving the November tour of Sri Lanka as Gillespie's next chance to return to the test side. The 32-year-old pushed his way to the front of New Zealand's fast bowling queue with his heroics in the final two tests against South Africa in March, taking innings figures of 5-59 and 6-113.
"He will come back. He's mentally tough and so many people have written him off before and he keeps coming back," Kerr said.
"Two years ago I started at Cricket Wellington and one of the first things I heard was that Mark Gillespie was all but finished."
Coach John Wright said it was a tough blow for Gillespie, who was very keen to impress in the Caribbean and continue his momentum from the home summer.
Wright said Tim Southee and Kyle Mills were the frontrunners to replace Gillespie in the test squad, and they would get the chance to impress in the five-match ODI series starting on Friday. "We're hoping either of those will perform well enough to warrant selection."
Wright responded to the team's injury concerns by summoning test squad members Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Neil Wagner, Chris Martin and Kruger van Wyk to the Caribbean earlier than scheduled. Left-armer Trent Boult is already on his way as injury cover. Some of the test players could be considered for the final two ODIs, Wright said.
Captain Ross Taylor's tour is in doubt with a shoulder injury and Jacob Oram is battling a knee problem.
Kane Williamson will become New Zealand's youngest ODI captain, at 21, when he leads the side on Friday after debuting as skipper in the second Twenty20 international on Monday.
- The Dominion Post
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