The viral infection that forced New Zealand into fielding a severely depleted team for the third Test against Australia in Sydney was unlike anything he’d seen before, the team physio revealed.
Captain Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls and Mitchell Santner were all ruled out of the Test as the visitors, already trailing 2-0 in the series, made five changes to their XI on Friday.
According to the physio, Vijay Vallabh, Williamson has lost 2.5 kg owing to the illness in just a few days.
An update from the team said that while Santner was struck by the bug overnight, Williamson and Nicholls joined the team on the bus to the ground on the morning of the Test and participated in the nets. However, it soon became clear that they were in no position to take the field. At the last minute, Glenn Phillips, who had been rushed in as cover late on Thursday, was handed his debut cap and Jeet Raval, who had been dropped after a string of poor performances, returned to the line-up.
After England, it’s now the New Zealand camp that’s been hit by a bug. Both Williamson and Nicholls are doubtful starters for the third Test in Sydney.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 2, 2020
“He [Williamson] wasn’t great, but it was safe enough to give them both an opportunity to have a go,” Vallabh explained to the travelling New Zealand media contingent. “They [Williamson and Nicholls] spent about 15 minutes in the nets and they were sweating and their heart rates were quite elevated. It was a sign that the flu was kicking in.
“The last thing we wanted to do is put them out knowing [the heat], and send them to the hospital and on a drip.”
The duo first showed signs of illness on New Year’s Day, and while the team might have been tempted to include them in a short-format match, a Test was out of the question in their condition, Vallabh said.
UPDATE: Kane Williamson & Henry Nicholls arrived at the SCG & having a net – a call on their fitness will be left until the toss.
Glenn Phillips arrived last night & already had a net this morning.
Mitchell Santner feeling worse this morning & ruled out #AUSvNZ #cricketnation pic.twitter.com/eLe5fdX4nK
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) January 2, 2020
“I’ve been around the team four-and-a-half years and I haven’t experienced anything like this,” he added. “I’ve seen the boys play through some pretty horrendous diarrhoea and vomiting in India. They’re quite resilient characters but in this situation with higher heart rates and fatigue, I think we made the right call.”
Even apart from the infection, the physio had plenty to keep him busy during day one of the Test. Matt Henry was left with a bloodied finger while fielding off his own bowling, while Will Somerville split the webbing of his non-bowling hand.
New Zealand were left firmly on the back-foot in the Test, with a Marnus Labuschagne century guiding the hosts to 283-3.