New Zealand cricket fans reacted with mild surprise on Tuesday to news that veteran left-arm spinner and former captain Dan Vettori may be rushed into the lineup for the second Test against England at Headingley.
News of 34-year-old Vettori's likely recall did little to lift the spirits of fans still digesting New Zealand's dismissal for 68 in the second innings of the first Test at Lord's which resulted in a 170-run defeat.
If he plays at Leeds from Friday, taking the role of specialist spinner from injured Bruce Martin, Vettori will be making his first Test appearance in 10 months. He played the last of his 112 Tests for New Zealand in the West Indies last July and has played little top-class cricket since then because of an ankle injury, making his Test callup a considerable risk.
"But it's a matter of whether we think he's going to be able to get through five days of a Test match. We won't risk Dan for the sake of a Test. But in saying that it is an important Test match for us"
Kiwi coach Mike Hesson
Vettori has joined the New Zealand team in London after traveling from India.
Off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who is currently playing for Warwickshire in the England county competition, is reportedly also being considered for a Test recall.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson told reporters in England he was confident that Vettori would be fit enough to play the second Test.
"He's done plenty of bowling in the last couple of months... albeit in the nets," Hesson said.
"He's got through plenty of work.
"But it's a matter of whether we think he's going to be able to get through five days of a Test match. We won't risk Dan for the sake of a Test. But in saying that it is an important Test match for us."
The news of Vettori's possible return caused only a few surprised comments by fans on New Zealand sports forums. State broadcaster Television New Zealand reported the veteran's return, and news that wicketkeeper B.J. Watling's knee injury is rapidly improving, had lifted the gloom hanging over the New Zealand team.
But fans' reaction was muted and suggested it is unlikely that Vettori will make a major impact, despite his 360 Test wickets and his six centuries, mostly made batting at No. 8.
Meanwhile England named the same 12-man squad for the second Test after batsman Ian Bell and offspinner Graeme Swann recovered from illness.
Bell has been suffering from the flu and spent substantial time off the field during the 170-run win over the Kiwis at Lord's in the first Test.
Swann also felt ill during that Test.
Yorkshire seamer Tim Bresnan will be pushing for a start on his home ground, having been left out of the starting lineup in the first Test.
Injured batsman Kevin Pietersen is still missing as England looks to wrap up a series win to build confidence ahead of the Ashes against Australia starting in July.
"I thought the team showed a lot of fighting spirit when under pressure to set up the victory," national selector Geoff Miller said.
"We are aware that there are still areas that we need to improve on and the players and coaches will be working hard ahead of the second Test to ensure we continue to get better as a side.
"New Zealand showed again that they are a dangerous side and we know we will need to produce another strong performance this week to secure a series victory."