March 21, 2002

Cairns out for tours as team-mates lose first day of second Test

New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns will not be taking part in the Sharjah tournament or the tour of Pakistan next month.

As his team-mates spent the day twiddling their thumbs and extending their last minute practice by a day when the first day of the second National Bank Test was abandoned in Wellington, word came through that a scan Cairns had yesterday on his injured knee had ruled him out of consideration for the tour.

Wet and windy weather, with gusts of up to 100km/h, blew through the capital city today and with a minimum of four hours to have the pitch ready, the umpires decided at 12.30pm, or the scheduled lunch break, to call play off for the day.

It was just as well because there was no let-up in the weather at all during the day. The latest forecast today said occasional rain would clear around noon leaving sunny patches with the wind dropping back from 45km/h north-westerlies.

New Zealand coach Denis Aberhart said the loss of a day did make it hard for his side to try and win the match to level the series before going into the final Test in Auckland, starting on Easter Saturday.

However, he said some amazing things had been seen already in the series and it was a case of New Zealand believing they had enough time to win the series.

"We have to prepare to win it to make it all square and our approach won't change," he said, adding that with extra hours to be added if play started on time tomorrow they would only miss two hours of play.

New Zealand had been paying attention to improving all the areas in which they did not do well in Christchurch.

Analysis after the first Test loss had shown that New Zealand had paid a price for coming off a lot of one-dayers, 17 in fact, and while they had talked and prepared accordingly there had been an element of pushing the game a lot quicker than players had needed to.

New Zealand would look to go back to basics.

Aberhart who was at the helm for his first series in Australia said there had been a good deal of analysis that went into that series, and there had been just as much for this England series, based on senior players who had played against the English before and from the side's own analysis methods.

"But to have a plan, you have got to be able to carry it out for a longer time than we managed here," he said.

New Zealand had less experienced bowlers in the attack and they had been unable to sustain the pressure in the way that Cairns and Shane Bond had managed so effectively in Australia.

"At Test level you need to have more patience, to be positive, to have a game plan and to stick to it and to believe in it.

"If your game is to hit the ball, do it, but do it responsibly. Sometimes you have to haul yourself in and do the hard yards for a while," he said.

While the extra day would give left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori some extra rest from his back soreness, just as it would assist England's Mark Butcher to get over his cracked thumb, Aberhart said he was very confident that Vettori would play tomorrow, as he had been confident he would have played today.

In relation to the problems at the Basin Reserve with its poor drying qualities and the possibility that rain may have seeped through the covers, Aberhart said it seemed to be that every time they came to the ground the groundsman seemed to have had trouble preparing the wicket.

"We want to present our players with good conditions with pitches with good pace and bounce. The Basin hasn't played well this season but this pitch is supposed to be on the different side of the block so I am not going to pre-judge its condition.

"But the thing in the middle is the most important thing of all," he said.

Aberhart also confirmed that Dion Nash had ruled himself out of the rest of the season to build himself up for the future while Shayne O'Connor was in the recuperation phase after knee surgery and had thrown the crutches away and was walking well.

There was still concern over the second spin role in the side and Aberhart said there had been an opportunity for people to put their hand up but the selectors were desperate for someone to emerge from the ruck in order to relieve Vettori of some of the slow bowling workload.