Mills blow for Black Caps
Kyle Mills has been ruled out of the third and final Test against England this weekend with a knee injury.
Last Updated: 20/03/08 6:34pm
New Zealand have been dealt a blow ahead of the decisive third and final Test against England this weekend after leading wicket-taker Kyle Mills was ruled out with a knee injury.
The 29-year-old seamer picked up the problem during the Twenty20 match in Auckland last month. However, after subsequently claiming 10 wickets in the opening two Tests, he had been expected to shrug it off.
However, Mills complained of more soreness after bowling a short spell in the nets on Thursday and has now been ruled out of the McLean Park decider.
Uncapped but highly-rated 19-year-old swing bowler Tim Southee has therefore been placed on stand-by to make his debut.
"It's something I haven't felt before," admitted Mills, speaking before he was ruled out of the Test. "I've had a strain before and tears before and I know what they feel like.
"This is just in the back of the knee. It all started in the Twenty20 game at Eden Park, the sand based outfield is very soft.
"I just dove into it and jammed up really. Ever since then it's been niggling me ever since."
With off-spinner Jeetan Patel expected to be recalled in Napier, New Zealand must now choose between Southee and Mark Gillespie for the final place in their line-up.
Gillespie, preferred to Patel for the second Test in Wellington, justified his selection by claiming six wickets in the match but was also expensive.
Despite the blow, Black Caps skipper Daniel Vettori remains upbeat going into the final Test and believes his side have proved the pre-series sceptics wrong during the course of the tour.
"I suppose if people before the one-day series had given us 1-1 then there would have been a lot of people happy to take it, and be happy with it," Vettori said.
"It's all going to depend on the result of the final game. Whoever plays the better game, whether it's a win or a draw, will probably take bragging rights for the whole series.
"We've got that from the one-dayers but if we can take it from the Test match as well it's been a pretty good summer for us.
"People weren't expecting it from us but we've managed to put something together.
"We've lost a lot of players, but there is still a lot of talent here and I think we can go forward."