BRISBANE (Reuters) – New Zealand suffered a major blow to their hopes of winning a first series in Australia for 30 years when paceman Tim Southee suffered a back injury on the second day of the first of three tests.
The 26-year-old had scans on his back after the opening day of the match at the Gabba and pulled up twice on his run-in on Friday before being helped from the pitch midway through the morning session.
New Zealand Cricket tweeted that Southee had an irritated disc in his back and fast bowler Neil Wagner was later brought into the squad as precautionary cover for next week’s second test in Perth.
“Tim will continue to be monitored and assessed over the coming days, but it’s important we have all of our bases covered,” said New Zealand coach Mike Hesson.
“Bringing Neil into the squad as cover assures us of that.”
Hopes of a series triumph, which looked optimistic when Australia declared on 556-4 on Friday, had been based in part on the potency of strike attack of Southee and left-arm quick Trent Boult.
Southee took one of the two wickets to fall on the opening day of the match and had figures of 1-70.
Doug Bracewell was selected as the third seamer for the opening test ahead of 23-year-old fast bowler Matt Henry, who has taken eight wickets in two tests.
South African-born left-armer Wagner has taken 58 wickets in 16 tests at an average of 34.48.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Greg Stutchbury/Sudipto Ganguly)