Jos Buttler has emerged as a major doubt on the eve of England’s second Test against New Zealand at Hamilton after the wicketkeeper-batsman tweaked his back during a gym session.
Buttler had only returned behind the stumps in the series opener at Mount Maunganui, where England’s innings-and-65-run defeat left New Zealand in an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
If Buttler is ruled out then Ollie Pope – who has kept in only five of his 33 first-class matches and most recently for England Lions against India A in February – is primed to take on the gloves at Seddon Park.
England captain Joe Root said: “Jos has tweaked his back in the gym, we’ll have to find out a little bit more information on that throughout (the next 24 hours) and see where he’s at.
“We knew that this was a possibility when we selected the squad and I’m quite happy that Popey’s got the capability of doing a good job for us.”
Pope was going through some wicketkeeping drills on Thursday afternoon in England’s optional training session, where only Buttler and paceman Jofra Archer did not make an appearance.
Buttler’s potential unavailability means England could hand a Test debut to Zak Crawley, the spare batsman on tour, although Root hinted they are considering recalling seam bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes.
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