Cricket: Blackcaps star Lockie Ferguson to make bowling return in club cricket

Blackcaps fast bowler Lockie Ferguson will take the next step in his recovery from a back injury, returning to Auckland club cricket on Saturday.

Ferguson, 29, has been out of action since the end of last November, diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back. As a result, the speedster could only watch from the sidelines as the Blackcaps sealed T20 series victories over both Pakistan and Australia in his absence.

But now on the mend and eager to return to the bowling crease, Ferguson will turn out for Parnell against Grafton at Shore Road on Saturday. 

Ferguson returned to bowling last month - albeit in the nets - but has been working closely with Blackcaps strength and conditioning coach Chris Donaldson, in his bid to get back to full fitness.

His return can't come soon enough for the Blackcaps, selector Gavin Larsen said on Thursday.

"He's a valuable commodity to us, Lockie" Larsen noted.

"So we're taking a very prudent approach with him, but all the indications are he's right on track and he's certainly in consideration for that T20 squad."

Ferguson will be hoping to return to full fitness in time for next month's Indian Premier League, where he'll turn out for the Kolkata Knight Riders, coached by former Blackcaps captain Brendon McCullum.

The IPL could prove to be a double-edged sword for Ferguson and the Blackcaps though, with the Kiwi contingents' involvement potentially ruling them out of the T20 series against Bangladesh later this month. 

It is expected that the nine New Zealanders with IPL contracts would be required to leave early due to their commitments, with only eight days between the end of the Bangladesh tour on April 1 and the start of the Indian tournament on April 9.

"We're having that discussion at the moment because we've got a number of guys involved in the IPL and there is a cutover period," Larsen adds. "We're just working through that now."

Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Seifert, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Kyle Jamieson and Finn Allen are the other New Zealanders with IPL commitments. 

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