New Zealand's task in taking on South Africa at the start of next year, on the Proteas' home soil, was made that much tougher with the news that veteran spinner Daniel Vettori would not be available for the tour.
Vettori missed the tour of Sri Lanka with an Achilles injury and it has not healed sufficiently for the trip to South Africa, where they will play two Tests. This means Jeetan Patel and Todd Astle are set to retain their places as the slow bowlers.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes speculation suggests Ross Taylor will not be the captain for that trip, having fallen foul of coach Mike Hesson. Taylor's stint as skipper has not been a happy one, with series defeats to SA, the West Indies and India.
Brendon McCullum is likely to step up should Taylor be stripped of the proverbial armband, though the latter will continue as a batsman after being one of the few Kiwi players to have a decent year with the bat.