Jesse Ryder and Luke Ronchi have been cleared of serious injury and should be back for Wellington's final Plunket Shield game.
They were both injured in the drawn clash with Auckland, which finished on Sunday, and will miss this week's match against Northern Districts starting in Whangarei on Thursday.
But initial fears of a long-term absence from the game, particularly in Ronchi's case, were quelled by scans yesterday and Firebirds physiotherapist Vijay Vallabh said both players ought to be fit in time to meet Otago at the Basin Reserve from February 20.
Ryder has been diagnosed with a grade-one adductor (groin) strain, and Ronchi has a grade-one hamstring strain.
Ronchi cut a disconsolate figure at the Basin Reserve on Sunday when he suffered the injury running a single. It took him a couple of minutes to shuffle back on strike and he holed out two balls later, after deciding that if he could not run he would have to try and hit everything for six.
"Ronchs was pretty tight from travelling and playing in Whangarei [for the New Zealand XI]. It presented like quite a bad strain but the scans were pretty positive and a couple of days of being off his feet and working on it should be fine," Vallabh said.
"This is almost his body telling him 'let's have a break for a bit' but we'll be able to get him right and back on the horse pretty quickly."
Ronchi is the second-highest run scorer in the Plunket Shield this season, with an aggregate of 760, while Ryder's 723 have him fourth highest.
Tom Blundell, who kept wickets on the first day of the Auckland game while Ronchi was in Whangarei, would seem the most likely man to take the gloves against ND, although opening batsman Michael Papps might be another option.
Ryder's spot looks more wide open. Onslow's Barry Rhodes can't be far out of the mix, while fast bowler Scott Kuggeleijn could slot back in after being made 12th man against Auckland. Kuggeleijn is averaging 37 with the bat in the Plunket Shield and could probably come in as a batsman first and bowler second.
Wellington's draw with Auckland saw them slip past the Aces and into fifth spot on the ladder, thanks to accumulating more bonus points during the match. The Firebirds now have 65 points, 10 fewer than third-placed ND.
Central Districts continue to lead the competition (on 108) and meet Canterbury at Rangiora in this round. Canterbury are level on points with Wellington but have a superior net run-rate.
Cricket Wellington were given plenty of advice yesterday, but it wasn't enough to help them draw a conclusion about what the result was in Saturday's Hazlett Trophy match between Petone-Eastbourne and Naenae Old Boys.
Naenae had a player leave early and batted just 10 players in their second innings of the game at the Petone Recreation Ground and lost their ninth and final wicket off the last ball of the two-day match.
For now, the result remains undetermined, with some believing the match was a draw and others saying it was an outright victory to Petone.
Cricket Wellington senior cricket co-ordinator Clinton Butler said he had received different interpretations of what the completion of an innings means, under Law 12 (3).
Butler said there continues to be confusion because there were no balls left in the match. Had there been, he felt Petone would have been the undisputed winners.
Butler said he was still trying to get a definitive view on the situation from New Zealand Cricket and that he would declare a result once he had received it.
- The Dominion Post
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