Injury leaves door open for possible one last dance for Neil Wagner

New Zealand captain Tim Southee did not rule out the possibility of Neil Wagner playing the second and final Test against Australia.

Injury to Will O'Rourke could pave the way for Neil Wagner to come out of retirement for the final Test against Australia in Christchurch.

O'Rourke left the field on the third day of the first Test, returning only to bat again in the final innings, where New Zealand fell short by 172 runs.

Tim Southee, when questioned about O'Rourke's injury, did not dismiss the idea of Wagner's return. Wagner had officially retired from international cricket just days before the start of the first Test but made a brief appearance as a substitute fielder to warm applause from the crowd.

ALSO READ: Neil Wagner announces retirement from international cricket

Although initially named in the squad for the two Tests, Wagner was later informed that he was unlikely to feature in the playing XI. Subsequently, the 37-year-old decided to call time on his career.

"We haven't had a lot of discussions as yet," Southee said. "We'll see how Will scrubs up. The physio hasn't sort of put a timeframe on it or how bad it is. We'll just wait and see how Will goes over the next couple of days. I'm sure there'll be an update in the next 24 hours

"We obviously have to go on and make a decision on who comes in and what role we sort of see that playing out in Christchurch.

"[Wagner's] had a great reception here over the last week where he got a couple of moments on the field and obviously he's been a fan favourite for a long time."

Southee definitively ruled out Trent Boult's comeback for the final Test. Boult, who last played in a Test match in June 2022, had requested to be left out of New Zealand’s central contract list in August of the same year.

"I don't think his loading is up to it on the back of T20," Southee said.

Following a heavy 172-run loss to Australia in the first Test, New Zealand slid to the second position in the World Test Championship standings.

ALSO READ: India move to the top of the World Test Championship standings

Cameron Green's resilient innings of 174* propelled Australia into a commanding position after their first-innings effort. Despite New Zealand being dismissed for a mere 179, Australia opted not to enforce the follow-on, instead choosing to build on their lead to 204 runs.

Glenn Phillips’s maiden Test five-for restricted Australia to 164 but the target of 369 proved too big for the Black Caps. Nathan Lyon spun a web around the hosts, bagging a six-wicket haul and a 10-for in the match to bowl New Zealand out for 196.

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