With an enthusiastic "bloody oats," Aaron Redmond's name was inked for his first cricket test in five years.
The 34-year-old Otago opener was confirmed to bat at three for New Zealand on his home ground in today's first test against the West Indies after Kane Williamson was ruled out with a fractured thumb.
There are few more popular characters on the New Zealand first-class scene, and in a short interview the man known as 'Reds' showed why, after getting what he described as a whisper in his ear from skipper Brendon McCullum.
"Yeah, bloody oats I'm excited," he said of his first test since Adelaide in November 2008.
Not only will he play in front of his wife and young children, and other family and friends on University Oval, but it will be Redmond's first international on home soil after representing his country 20 times across three formats.
"I've been travelling the world and playing all the tourist games but it's actually nice to get back to my home country and play some cricket.
"If you get the chance and the opportunity has arisen, unfortunately for Kane, then you've got to take it eh. I'm happy as Larry."
That prospect looked distinctly unlikely as recently as 18 months ago when Redmond was dropped by coach Vaughn Johnson when captain of Otago. But it freed him up and he went on a runscoring spree in Plunket Shield last season with 941 at 55 to top the charts. This summer he continued with 154 against Wellington at the Basin Reserve and as other batting contenders like Dean Brownlie struggled, he became next cab off the rank.
Redmond's first seven tests were all in 2008 after he made headlines as the son of one-test wonder Rodney who's based in Perth. In Adelaide he looked a million dollars, blazing 83 before a loose slog-sweep to spinner Nathan Hauritz seemed to have his card marked for life, with a test average of 23.
"It's a nice story," said McCullum. "I thought he did a pretty good job for us when he last played and was a bit unlucky to have been axed back then. He had a tough year when he was captain of Otago and the way he's responded has been brilliant. It's another one for the older guys around first class cricket that the door's never shut."
Redmond will follow opener Peter Fulton, also 34, into battle and his gameplan was straigtforward against Tino Best and company. "Yeah mate, just get runs and go from there, just keep it real simple."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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