Recalled Black Caps all-rounder Ian Butler says he never gave up on his international dream, despite having not played for New Zealand in more than two years.
Butler has been named in the Black Caps Twenty20 side to play England in their upcoming three-match series, starting in Auckland on Saturday.
The 31-year-old has been in superb form as Otago fought their way to a HRV Cup title this year, claiming 11 wickets as he proved a tight, annoying bowler and a handy slugger down the order when his side required him.
Butler found himself in the international wilderness before this summer, having not featured in a Twenty20 for New Zealand since the Black Caps played Pakistan in Hamilton on December 28, 2010.
Despite his spell out of the New Zealand side, he never gave up on the prospect of wearing the silver fern again.
"I'm only 31 and that's still pretty young for first-class cricket," he told the Sunday Star-Times. "It is something that always drives you. Other than winning games for your own province, you always want to play and win games for your country as well. You never give up. I've still got a few years left in me.
"The body is the best it's ever been, and I'm certainly bowling as well as I ever have been. Until I stop enjoying it, I see no reason to give in."
Butler was a regular for New Zealand in the shortest form of the game in 2009 and 2010, playing for the Black Caps in the Twenty20 World Cups in both England and the West Indies.
His opportunities as a bowling all-rounder became limited when the likes of James Franklin consolidated their spots in the side, forcing Butler back to Otago to ply his trade.
He said Black Caps coach Mike Hesson has told him his role for the Black Caps will be no different from what it has been for Otago.
"Hess was very clear on that," he said. "I will play exactly the same role I play for Otago. You get picked for doing things you do well, and there's no reason to play any different way than how I've been going of late."
A call-up to the test team might be another goal in Butler's sights.
The eight-test veteran took his first first-class 10-wicket haul in Otago's Plunket Shield clash with Northern Districts in Queenstown this weekend, taking impressive hauls of 6 for 61 in the Knights' first innings, and 4 for 46 in their second.
- Sunday Star Times
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