Chappell-Hadlee Series 2008-09 January 24, 2009

Mills ready to lead attack in Australia

Cricinfo staff

Kyle Mills: "I've been around this side for a number of years now and as one of the leaders I need to help take responsibility for my team-mates" © Getty Images

Kyle Mills, the New Zealand fast bowler, will test his knee during Auckland's State Shield game against Central Districts on January 25 before leaving for Australia two days later for the five-match Chappell-Hadlee Series. Mills decided to skip domestic games in the past two weeks to rest his right knee, but believes the niggle will not prevent him from leading the attack against Australia.

"The knee's pretty good. It's just something that's been hanging around now for the last year or so," Mills told Sunday News. He had missed the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies after undergoing surgery on a tendon on his left knee, and is facing a similar problem with his right knee at present.

"It's not a major or anything like that but we decided I should have a few days off because we've got a pretty intense schedule once the one-dayers against Australia start. I've had a rest now and will be playing again on Sunday against Central Districts. I'm feeling very comfortable with where I'm at right now."

He said he was pleased with they way he bowled against West Indies on their recent visit, and was ready to take charge in Australia. "Dan Vettori and I need to lead the bowling attack," Mills said. "We are the most experienced bowlers within the side, so it's no surprise the responsibility to take wickets falls on us." New Zealand's 14-man squad includes two uncapped players in 19-year-old fast bowler Trent Boult and allrounder Brendon Diamanti, while the likes of Tim Southee and Iain O'Brien do not have a lot of ODI experience.

Mills has also been called up in the past to take on leadership roles off the field, among them being mentoring Jesse Ryder during the Test tour of Australia last year after Jacob Oram had been ruled out of the series. "I was just giving Jesse a helping hand throughout the tour and just keeping the lines of communication open with his support group back in New Zealand," he said. "I was a link between the two really. That was all my role was.

"I've been around this side for a number of years now and as one of the leaders I need to help take responsibility for my team-mates. Jacob Oram is the main guy who has been helping Jesse through everything and the fact that Jacob didn't tour Australia due to injury meant I put my hand up to fill that role in his absence.

"It was only a temporary situation because Jacob knew Jesse through Central Districts. I stood in his shoes while we were over there. It wasn't a major thing or anything like that."

Ryder has fallen into trouble since the tour; the batsman was fined for missing a team meeting and a training session after a late night of drinking, and was omitted for the fourth ODI against West Indies in Wellington. Mills, though, is unsure if there will be a mentor on the upcoming tour as well, with Oram out due to injury.

"Nothing like that has been set in stone for this upcoming trip," he said. "All of us support each other when we are on tour.

"We all know Jesse has been going through a pretty tough time and hopefully he's coming out the back-end of it. As team-mates of his, we all support him. I'm not the only one. There are quite a few guys in this side who are helping him through his issues."