JOS BUTTLER is a major doubt to play in the second Test against New Zealand after injuring his back in the gym.
It means 21-year-old Surrey batsman Ollie Pope will take the gloves for just the sixth time in his first class career.
Both Rory Burns and Zak Crawley have wicket-keeping experience too, but Pope is considered the best among the current squad and kept most recently for the England Lions against India ‘A’ in February in Mysore.
“Jos has tweaked his back in the gym,” said England captain Joe Root. “We’ll have to find out a little bit more information on that throughout today and tomorrow and see where he’s at.
“There’s a number of different combinations we could go with, and I think a lot of that will rely on the surface.
“It’s about trying to find the best combination which would take 20 wickets, and then balancing that in terms of getting the batting where we want it to be. It could be an all-rounder – we’ll see.”
Kent’s Crawley is the most likely replacement in the game now as the number six batsman making him the second debutant of the tour behind Dominic Sibley.
And just like Sibley he opened his account in an England shirt with a hundred in the first two day warm up match in Whangarei.
But with a Test hundred already to his name as well as 88 wickets, Chris Woakes would not be out of place were Root to turn to the Warwickshire man.
Buttler was going through his normal pre match routine with the England fitness staff when he felt a twinge in his back and was unable to continue.
While the rest of his team-mates completed their preparations at the ground, Buttler was confined to his hotel room fearing his tour was over.
Buttler only recently returned to the job of being England’s number one keeper having been dropped from the role in 2015.
He deputised once for Jonny Bairstow in 2018 due to a finger injury, and England could well turn to Bairstow again in South Africa as cover in a slightly larger 16 man squad.