December 8, 2002

Team to play first Test named

The TelstraClear Black Caps team to play India in the first Test in the National Bank Series at the Basin Reserve starting on Thursday, December 12 is:

Stephen Fleming (captain)
Nathan Astle
Shane Bond
Robbie Hart
Craig McMillan
Michael Mason
Jacob Oram
Mark Richardson
Scott Styris
Daryl Tuffey
Daniel Vettori
Lou Vincent

New Zealand Cricket chairman of selectors Sir Richard Hadlee said the selectors had taken a conservative approach to selecting the team bearing in mind the lack of cricket.

"We are backing experience and what we know by putting our faith in players who have performed at the top level.

"I am, however, concerned about the lack of wickets and runs from leading players in recent matches.

"The 12 named are for the first Test only," he said.

The surprise inclusion of Mason follows good performance in the first innings for Central Districts against India.

"Mason is a bowler with good pace. He has been impressive in the current game taking three for 46 in the first innings against India and he swings ball away from right-handed batsmen," Hadlee said.

"Oram had been considered for Test teams in the past and has been the 12th man. His selection follows huge progress in his bowling. He has brisk pace and his height makes for increased bounce which can prove awkward for batsmen in some conditions. He has been an impressive all-rounder for Central Districts this season with both the bat and ball."

Oram was unavailable to play in the current match for Central Districts against India as a precaution while he rested a strained hamstring. He has now undergone a fitness test and has been fully cleared by the New Zealand Cricket medical panel.

Ian Butler was unavailable due to injury while Andre Adams, Chris Cairns and Shayne O'Connor are undergoing rehabilitation programmes following injuries.