Kyle Mills having too much fun to retire

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013
Kyle Mills
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KYLE MILLS: "I'm only in my early 30s and when I was growing up I was told you play your best cricket in your early 30s, whereas since I've turned 30 all I get asked is when I'm going to retire."

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Kyle Mills has more people trying to retire him than pat him on the back for his longevity and miserly wicket-taking feats for New Zealand.

And after being one of New Zealand's key performers in their three-wicket win over England in the first ODI - with nowhere near the fanfare of Brendon McCullum or Martin Guptill - Mills says he wants to lead the attack through to the 2015 World Cup on home soil.

The 33-year-old arrived in Napier for tomorrow's second ODI with a spring in his step after taking 2-33 off 10 overs as England were dismissed for 258 in Hamilton.

It was, in the assessment of England skipper Alistair Cook, 20-30 runs below a competitive total and ensured New Zealand were always in with a sniff on Seddon Park.

"I was really pleased with the way I started. I take huge responsibility to set the innings up for our side and I knew I would come back in the power play and they only got 1-24 [between overs 36 and 40] which was a pretty good result for us on a flat wicket on a small ground," Mills said.

The Auckland seamer turns 34 next month and while his great mate Jacob Oram has handed in his New Zealand contract, and Daniel Vettori's international return remains on hold due to injuries, Mills is confident of making the big show in two years.

"I'm only in my early 30s and when I was growing up I was told you play your best cricket in your early 30s, whereas since I've turned 30 all I get asked is when I'm going to retire.

"It's definitely on the radar. I'll be 35 by the time that finishes and nothing would be sweeter than to finish a World Cup at home with a win."

Only Vettori (274) has more ODI wickets than Mills for New Zealand. After Sunday night, his 145th ODI, Mills has 214 scalps at an average of 25.9 and economy rate of 4.7.

Mills would love a crack at T20 and test sides but accepts ODI cricket is his lot for now.

"It's also the only form I can get picked in so I'm a big fan of it."

The new rules have worked for and against the pace bowlers. A new ball at each end helps, but the maximum of four fielders outside the circle when the willow is flaying makes it tough.

Mills conceded just eight runs in his two powerplay overs to set batsmen Jonathan Trott and Joe Root on Sunday, with simple short of a length deliveries and varying his pace and line.

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New Zealand have the chance to seal the series with a match to spare, but the tourists will be tougher with a game under their belts. Cook felt they were rusty in Hamilton as he, Trott and Ian Bell had their first knocks of the tour.

"I don't buy into that too much. They're quality players and they've just been recently playing against a quality Indian side.

"The nature of cricket these days is you play 11 months of the year and you're expected to jump off a plane and perform," Mills said.

Mills welcomed back his regular new ball partner Tim Southee yesterday, having been recalled earlier than scheduled to replace Mitchell McClenaghan who suffered a series-ending side strain.

Guptill, who will miss the ODI series at least with a hamstring strain, was replaced by Hamish Rutherford.

Southee felt ready for his first international since the test win against Sri Lanka in November, after which he tore ligaments in his left thumb while fielding and required surgery.

He was given the all-clear by his surgeon a fortnight ago and took 9-149 in his Plunket Shield comeback against Wellington.

"It was just good to get some wickets under my belt.

"I was reasonably happy with the bowling effort. I've been bowling for three weeks now so it's been a gradual progression," Southee said.

- The Dominion Post

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