World Test Championship: Trent Boult could miss Blackcaps' first test against England due to IPL commitments

Indian Premier League (IPL) commitments could rule Blackcaps seamer Trent Boult out of the first test against England.

Boult, 32, has established himself as a key player for Rajasthan Royals in this year's IPL, helping them to a second-place finish, before the competition playoffs.

The Royals fell to a seven-wicket loss to Lockie Ferguson's Gujarat Titans in the IPL's first qualifying final earlier this week and now face a second qualifier against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday, with the winners advancing to the May 30 final.

Trent Boult for Rajasthan Royals.
Trent Boult for Rajasthan Royals. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

Should Boult's Royals advance to the final, he would almost certainly miss that first test, beginning on June 2 at Lord's.

And while balancing club and country commitments is simply part of the modern game, Boult would be cutting it fine were he to arrive in England without any red-ball match practice.

Blackcaps coach Stead admits he's hesitant to throw Boult into a test match with only a diet of Twenty20 cricket, when his last red-ball fixture was New Zealand's victory against Bangladesh in January.

"For Trent Boult, it still may have that effect," Stead said. "If Rajasthan go on to make the final, he may only touch down a day before the test starting.

"That's something we'll obviously address when we see how far Rajasthan get."

Boult also sat out of the second and final test against South Africa to close out New Zealand's red-ball summer, with no match practice after the birth of his child.

But while Boult is certain to play a part for however long Rajasthan's IPL season continues, teammate Daryl Mitchell has been released early and joined the NZ side in England, before their warm-up match against a County Cricket XI, beginning Thursday (NZ time).

Mitchell's early arrival is a boost for the Blackcaps, providing batting cover for Henry Nicholls, who has battled a calf strain since they touched down in the UK, with Stead conceding he too could miss the first test.

"Henry's still touch-and-go to be available for the first test with his calf niggle," he said. "Obviously, he was one of the ones to be struck down with COVID as well - it's probably just put him back a few days.

"Today will be a bit of a test for Henry to see where he's at, but Daryl being here makes sure we do have that batting cover that's here on the ground and practicing red-ball cricket."

The Blackcaps have also been boosted by the arrivals of Devon Conway and Neil Wagner into the camp, now in Essex, while Kane Williamson and Tim Southee will also join the team shortly.