Cricket: Anxious New Zealand await Morrison verdict

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NEW ZEALAND were relieved when their best bowler, Danny Morrison, put in a long spell in the nets yesterday, two days before the first Test at Trent Bridge, but have also put Aaron Gale, a 24-year-old Otago seamer playing in the Durham League, on stand-by for an undreamed of Test debut.

Gale, a brisk swing bowler, will only play if Morrison and Michael Owens, who has hip and groin problems, fail fitness tests today. Chris Pringle is already definitely out, but tests have revealed that his back injury is not as serious as feared, and he is expected to be fit in a fortnight.

Morrison has played just one first-class match on tour after being troubled initially by a groin strain. He then broke down with the hamstring injury during the first Texaco Trophy one-day international. New Zealand now have just three fully fit seamers on call - Dion Nash, the vice-captain, Gavin Larsen, and the wayward youngster, Heath Davis. Neither Larsen nor Davis have won Test caps, and Nash has only made three Test appearances.

Meanwhile, England's Mark Ilott took things easy himself as England arrived in Nottingham for their two-day preparation.

The Essex left-armer tweaked a groin muscle against New Zealand at Chelmsford, but he is not in doubt for the Test.

Dominic Cork, the Derbyshire all-rounder, will this week undergo surgery on his left knee for the second time in four months, and will be out for a month.