Forget the mammoth workload while bowling with two fractured toes, a fear of needles may have been the biggest hurdle Black Caps hero Neil Wagner had to overcome against Pakistan.
New Zealand bowling coach Shane Jurgensen has provided more insight into Wagner’s Herculean effort in the first test at Mount Maunganui, which played a pivotal role in the home team’s thrilling victory that provisionally moved them to No 1 in the world rankings.
After fracturing a couple of bones while batting in the first innings, Wagner defied expectations to bowl a combined 49 overs, including a marathon spell of 11-straight in the crucial final session, to finish with match figures of 4-105.
He was aided by pain-killing injections to get through the contest, but Jurgensen revealed that was not a straightforward process for the 34-year-old.
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“I don’t think he’s a fan of needles,” Jurgensen told Newstalk ZB.
“So, every time he had to get an injection to kill the pain you could hear him screaming.”
The Black Caps are expected to announce later Thursday whether Wagner will be available for the second test in Christchurch, which starts on Sunday, although Jurgensen was hopeful he would avoid surgery.
Matt Henry is the leading contender to join the squad if Wagner is ruled out.
But regardless of his status, the South African-born seamer’s lion-hearted display will be remembered for quite some time.
“He was in a lot of pain and he was going off and having injections and numbing his foot and we were trying to use him when the injection was taking effect – it was kind of unique for all of us,” Black Caps captain Kane Williamson said after the match.
“His appetite and motivation to be out there and try and make a difference for the team is huge and we haven’t seen it any bigger than the effort he’s put in across this test match.
“It had an impact on his ability to operate at 100 per cent, but he still came in and got the breakthrough like he does for us so often when he’s at full strength.
“It was a very, very special effort from Wags, one that the team appreciated. We needed him out there and he delivered.”