T20 World Cup 2021: NZ coach Stead miffed by ICC’s delay in allowing Milne as replacement for PAK match

Ish Sodhi wasn't initially in plans to play against Pakistan | Getty Images

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead was not happy with the International Cricket Council (ICC), as he questioned the technical committee’s decision to not allow Adam Milne as a replacement for injured Lockie Ferguson before their ICC T20 World Cup 2021 opener against Pakistan.

The most disappointing thing for Stead was that the ICC’s technical committee had informed New Zealand of their decision barely 90 minutes before the start of the T20 World Cup 2021 match against Pakistan on October 26.

Ferguson was ruled out of the ongoing T20 World Cup 2021 with a grade two tear on his right calf and New Zealand wanted Milne to replace him in the 15-member squad ahead of their opening game against Pakistan.

However, the Kiwis tried their best, but their request was denied by the ICC’s technical committee and they ended up losing the match by five wickets against Pakistan, and the head coach said the side just wants to know the reason for the same.

He further said that the Black Caps will continue to seek clarification on why the committee denied the request for the injury replacement for the Pakistan game, as Milne was surprisingly allowed as Ferguson’s replacement within an hour after their opening match.

Stead stated, “We tried pretty hard to get across the line with the ICC our replacement player, but it wasn’t to be. That was really disappointing for us because Adam Milne is someone waiting in the wings as a like-for-like replacement. What we were told is they don’t give clearance on the same day, so we’ll question that reason and continue to seek clarification on that.”

He further revealed that New Zealand had no plans to play leg-spinner, Ish Sodhi, against Pakistan, but had to change their playing xi thrice just because of the confusion over Milne.

The coach further explained, “You always plan to have the changes like this, the most unsettling thing for us is we probably changed the team three times today on that decision. Originally we thought we’d got the clearance for Adam to play, but then it’s been turned down. So we were questioning it with the ICC as much as an hour and a half out from the game and arriving there.

We weren’t going to play Ish Sodhi – we felt that pitch was one that would suit the seamers a lot more and the up-and-down nature of the pitch and the work we’d done around scouting and what the data was telling us was that it pointed towards seam bowlers and pace bowlers being more effective. That’s the way we would have gone.”

On being asked whether Milne’s presence would have made difference to the outcome of the match, Stead cited the example of Haris Rauf, who picked up four wickets and played a key role in their win.

He added, “You can’t say you know for sure if it would have made a difference in the game, but for us, on that wicket, pace bowling and hitting the pitch as hard as what Adam does or Lockie does would have been a difference, we think. I think Haris Rauf showed for Pakistan the difference that it can make.”

Stead also hinted that Milne is likely to play against India on October 31. He signed off by saying, “When you look at how we structure our side, we always try to have that pace dominance where we can, and we certainly lacked that.”