Leg-spinner Mason Crane is to fly home from England’s Test tour of New Zealand because of a stress fracture of his lower back – and will be replaced by Jack Leach.
Crane, who made his Test debut in the final Ashes Test in Sydney in January, rejoined the squad here only this week but was unable to take the field in either of the back-to-back tour matches in Hamilton.
Slow left-armer Leach joins his first senior England tour, for a two-match series starting in Auckland next week, having been the leading spinner in the Specsavers County Championship Division One wicket-taking table over the last two seasons with 116 for Somerset. The 26-year-old was on the brink of a mid-tour call-up for the 2016/17 Test tour of India, only for that plan to be scuppered when it was discovered he would have to remodel his suspect action.
This winter, Leach hit form again in the England Lions tour of the Caribbean. He took 18 wickets in a 3-0 series defeat against West Indies A, including a Lions record match haul of 8-110 in Jamaica last month.
Adil Rashid would have been the like-for-like leg-spin replacement for Crane, but the Yorkshireman’s status is complicated after he announced last month that he had signed a white-ball only contract for this summer with his county.
England won fair reward for a much-improved bowling display on day one of their final warm-up match before next week’s first Test. Joe Root’s men, who fared poorly on the corresponding ‘bowling’ day in their pink-ball tour match, got their act together to take the first 10 New Zealand XI wickets for 232 inside 72 overs – before the hosts eventually finished on 287-13.
In the absence of Ben Stokes, selected for the second of these two-day warm up fixtures at Seddon Park but rested to play as a specialist batsman only on Saturday, England’s attack upped its game with the red ball.
They had run into twin centuries from Test discard Tom Blundell and big-hitting tailender Kyle Jamieson two days previously. But the same pair had to settle for a combined 60 runs, Martin Guptill (73) instead top-scoring, with Moeen Ali and latterly Root sharing six wickets with their off-breaks.