Mount Maunganui [New Zealand], July 1 (ANI): New Zealand women’s team batter Lauren Down and bowler Jess Kerr have been ruled out of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced on Friday.
Down has withdrawn from the event squad in order to prioritise her well-being, saying she needs to take time away from the game.
Kerr injured her foot in the team’s final ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan and, while she has healed and is back training, the timeline for a return to the field could not adapt to the Games’ schedules.
The pace bowler is targeting a return to international cricket in time for New Zealand’s tour of the West Indies in September, while Down will make her return when she feels the time is right.
Speedsters Lea Tahuhu and Claudia Green have been named as replacements.
Tahuhu was omitted on a central contract last month but has been called up on the strength she offers as a bowling all-rounder, while Green toured England with the team last season, has featured in several New Zealand camps and was seen as a like-for-like replacement for Kerr.
New Zealand women’s head coach, Ben Sawyer, said the team was saddened to lose Kerr and Down.
“Our first and main priority is ensuring both Lauren and Jess are looked after – it’s never easy missing cricket tours. We’ve ensured Lauren has the support she needs and hope she’ll be able to join us again soon,” said Sawyer in an official statement released by NZC.
“We thought Jess would recover in time to take the field in Birmingham, and while this has not transpired, the signs are good for an international return for the West Indies tour in September,” he added.
Sawyer said he was looking forward to Tahuhu and Green joining the squad.
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“Lea is a familiar face so will be able to hit the ground running at training camp next week. We’ve previously said it’s important not to confuse contracting with selection and this is a good example of why.
“Lea offers genuine pace and bounce with the ball and her ability with the bat gives us options.”
He viewed Green as a natural replacement for Kerr.
“Claudia has a similar skill-set to Jess so fits nicely into the squad make-up. Her ability to swing the ball is an exciting aspect of her game and we look forward to having her on tour in England.”
The team have a training camp in Lincoln next week, before leaving for England on July 12 for further training and warm-up fixtures ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2022. (ANI)