November 12, 2001

Nash left the perfect parting present

Anyone who has been the slightest interested in Dion Nash's Test match cricket career should not have been surprised that he should play the last, vital, hand in New Zealand achieving the follow on target against Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane today.

Nash went out to bat today at 243/7, knowing that whatever he did today was going to be his last contribution to the tour.

Injury has struck him down again in the early stages of yet another tour. Last year it was an early return from Zimbabwe that curtailed his involvement in that tour. His troublesome back had flared up again and it seemed his career might well be over.

But Nash wasn't prepared to call it quits and after more hard work, began by returning as a batsman with Auckland, a not unproductive pastime for him as he scored 452 runs at 30.13, including a century and two 50s.

He began to bowl a few towards the end of the season and took five wickets at 25.40.

Then began the winter of build-up to get his worrisome back into a position where he could be a Test quality bowler again.

That achieved he won selection for the one-day leg of the scheduled tour to Pakistan but missed the chance for an early try out when the tour was cancelled as the result of the war against terrorism in neighbouring Afghanistan.

An abdominal strain when playing against the Queensland Academy XI saw him miss the Queensland game and on the second day in the field in the first Test he aggravated the injury necessitating his returning home at the end of this Test.

It is a measure of his refusal to yield to the frustration of another early trip home from a tour that Nash had the presence of mind to battle for the side's cause towards the end of their first innings.

He and Adam Parore went through nearly an hour of playing themselves in and awaiting their opportunity against some fine fast bowling on the part of Brett Lee.

They quietly worked their way through the new ball and were just starting to free up when Parore launched into a ball only to find Steve Waugh dive and pick up a hard chance to send him on his way for 11.

Daniel Vettori survived a dropped chance off the first ball he faced, and then Nash took over.

Rather than keep on grafting he felt confident enough to take the attack to the bowlers. He hit a four over the gully field and when Gillespie was introduced the first four balls of his over were hit for two runs each.

The last of them saw the follow on passed and immediately the players were called in by Stephen Fleming.

It was a great farewell present to his team-mates and encapsulated the Nash approach to cricket - and that is why he is so appreciated for the competitive attitude he brings to the team.

Wicketless in this Test he remains cast on 93 wickets in Test matches but with the knowledge that it is not his back causing the problems there is every chance that Nash will be seen again this summer.

But for all else that he might achieve, there may be nothing that proves more valuable than the fighting example he provided his team-mates in the heat of battle at Brisbane.