Vettori to take over Oram's role

Last updated 08:44 12/11/2008

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Captain Daniel Vettori wants to fill Jacob Oram's giant boots at No 7, while young paceman Tim Southee is facing a recall as New Zealand nail down their side to face Australia in the first test.

The Black Caps trained on a sun-drenched Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday ahead of tomorrow's four-day warmup match against New South Wales before next week's first test in Brisbane.

While Vettori was bombarded with questions about his opposite Ricky Ponting's mental state after Australia's 2-0 series defeat in India, New Zealand have plenty on their minds.

Primarily, their comparative lack of cricket, which includes just a short tour of Bangladesh, the scheduling of a solitary warmup match in Australia, and the absence of key all-rounder Oram, who has a back injury.

Vettori said he would bat No 7 against NSW and they would play four pacemen as he showed their hand for Brisbane, with all-rounder Grant Elliott and paceman Mark Gillespie looking the likely drinks carriers.

"I've had the form under my belt but it's a different scenario when you go up the order," Vettori said. "There's more expectations on you and I'm going to have to try and fill what is a very tough spot to fill.

"Whatever my role is, it's still important as captain to be the leading performer. That's what I've tried to do since I've taken over the job and . . . even when conditions don't suit, it's still my role."

He took that to a new level in the first test in Chittagong, single- handedly winning the match with scores of 55 not out and 76, and a combined 9-133 with the ball.

The SCG is known as a spin- friendly surface, which will offer a transition from the dead Bangladeshi pitches, before Brisbane, which has overtaken Perth as the fastest surface in Australia.

"It's difficult, particularly that first test match at the Gabba. It's notorious for having a little bit in the wicket and the seamers tend to dominate, so that's something we won't have faced for a long time," Vettori said.

Vettori said Kyle Mills and Iain O'Brien were automatic selections, while senior paceman Chris Martin should return after missing the Bangladesh tour with an injured hamstring.

Southee had his nose in front of Gillespie, Vettori said, meaning a likely third test appearance for the 20-year-old Northlander after an encouraging debut tour of England, on which he was named player of the ODI series.

Vettori said he was leading the nucleus of a good side, but their inexperienced batting lineup with first-year test players Aaron Redmond, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder and Daniel Flynn, and the Black Caps' world test ranking of seventh, hinted at a tough tour against the world's No 1 side.

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Australia's capitulation in the fourth test at Nagpur offered no comfort, he said.

"The Australian team's performances in their own country in the last few years have been almost impeccable.

"I'm sure they'll be hurting as a side after losing the test series. They'll come back pretty strong so it's almost a worse position to be in than if they'd won the series."

But he admitted it was a strange feeling arriving in Australia with the home team and its captain being pilloried in the media as they flew home.

Ponting's decision to bowl his part-timers on the fourth day at Nagpur to avoid a possible suspension for slow over rates, when they had India under pressure, was attacked by former captains Allan Border and Ian Chappell.

The Melbourne Herald-Sun's senior cricket writer, Jon Pierik, wrote: "It was a miserable match for Australia's second-most successful skipper, perhaps his darkest day since replacing Steve Waugh."

EXPERIENCED businessman Stuart Heal has been appointed as a director on the board of New Zealand Cricket.

A former chairman of Otago Cricket, Heal's appointment fills the vacancy left by the retirement of John Anderson, who resigned at the NZC annual meeting in September.

Anderson has been replaced as chairman by Alan Isaac.

Heal was chief executive of South Island-based rural services and supply company CRT (Combined Rural Traders) from 1986 to 2004 and is currently a director on several boards.

- NZPA

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