Frustrated Ross Taylor swings from hip as Black Caps delay decision on his involvement in rest of test series
Frustrated and sore, Ross Taylor says his confidence is low after bravely batting with a torn calf muscle as New Zealand delay a decision on his status for the rest of the three-test cricket series against South Africa.
Just hours after being diagnosed with a "low grade tear" in his right calf, Taylor hobbled to the centre of University Oval, clouted Morne Morkel for six and was left 15 not out when Neil Wagner was dismissed to end the Black Caps first innings at 341 on Friday.
New Zealand say they will not decide on 33-year-old Taylor's availability for the second test, starting in Wellington on Thursday, till the end of this match on Sunday.
On current evidence Taylor looks likely to be ruled out for the rest of the series, in a big blow for New Zealand who've competed strongly in Dunedin. With Martin Guptill also out for the season with hamstring problems, Dean Brownlie (fitness permitting) and Neil Broom loom as the leading contenders to fill the No 4 slot in Wellington if Taylor is gone.
"It's just a small tear so it was nice to contribute in some sort of way and get a lead. Obviously still frustrated," Taylor told Radio Sport.
"I wouldn't say the confidence is that high. When I was walking out to the middle I was hoping I wouldn't get timed out."
Taylor retired hurt on eight on Thursday, after he took off for a single and was assisted off, barely able to walk.
He returned at the fall of the ninth wicket on Friday as New Zealand tried to minimise the time he was out there, whilst still trying to build a first innings lead. He and Wagner added 17 to extend the lead to 33, including one mammoth slog sweep over deep square leg off Morne Morkel, who broke Taylor's arm with a short delivery in Wellington in 2012.
"It [the six] was more of a fluke than anything, I couldn't put any weight on it [calf] so I had to get forward and Morne worked out that he just had to bowl short," Taylor told Radio Sport.
It is understood Guptill would be at the head of the queue to replace Taylor if he was ruled out of the second test, but the New Zealand ODI opener has injury worries of his own and will be sidelined for the next six weeks.
NZC confirmed Guptill would miss the rest of this season due to injuries to both hamstrings that ruled him out of the first three ODIs against South Africa. Guptill returned for game four and blazed 180 not out in New Zealand's victory in Hamilton, but after game five he was still experiencing soreness and was ruled out of Auckland's Plunket Shield game this week.
Guptill will undergo a "six week-long strength and conditioning rehabilitation programme before returning to the field," NZC said in a statement. It means he will miss the early part of the Indian Premier League which starts next month.
Brownlie was the designated standby batsman when Taylor experienced eye problems during the Pakistan tests before Christmas, and was called into the squad as cover then. He's under a fitness cloud, too, after missing Northern Districts' Plunket Shield match this week due to soreness after his outfield collision with Mitchell Santner in the ODI series.
Broom was dropped during the ODI series after a run of low scores and is yet to play a test, but averages 39 in first-class cricket including 18 centuries. He scored 42 and 28 for Otago in the pink ball match against Wellington this week and would provide experience at No 4.
Colin Munro and Tom Bruce would be next cabs off the rank but both are unlikely to be considered for this series.