Neesham proves worth with prize English scalps

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2013
Jimmy Neesham
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NEESHAM IN DOUBT: Jimmy Neesham injured his shoulder playing for Otago.

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Otago's Jimmy Neesham was the unlikely star with the ball for the New Zealand XI in their four-day match with England which started in Queenstown yesterday.

The 22-year-old is regarded a batting all-rounder and went into day one yesterday with a first-class bowling record of 35 wickets at an average of more than 35 and career best bowling figures of three for 39.

However, he was used as a first change bowler against a world-class English batting line-up yesterday and took his opportunity with both hands.

He picked up the wickets of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior and Nick Compton and finished the day with career best figures of 4-65.

Neesham last season transferred from Auckland to Otago to better his chance of playing in New Zealand's domestic competition.

He cemented a place in the Otago team and so impressed he was selected for the Black Caps' recent one-day and T20 series in South Africa.

Yesterday's performance will keep his name in front of the national selectors and also indicated he may not be just a hard-hitting left-hand batsmen who can bowl a bit if needed.

He has highlighted he could be a genuine fourth bowling option at test level if he keeps developing.

Despite his four wickets England still finished in front yesterday, thanks to an unbeaten 127 by Ian Bell.

England were reduced to 81-3 when Neesham picked up three early wickets.

However, Bell ensured they got through to 357-7 at stumps.

The four-day game in Queenstown is a tune-up fixture for England in the lead-up to the first of three tests starting in Dunedin on March 6.

It is also a game where the Black Cap selectors will get to decide who will open the innings with Peter Fulton in the first test.

Youngsters Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham will get to stake their claims today against an attack lacking Steve Finn and James Anderson. Fairfax NZ

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