Iain O'Brien contemplates Wellington return
Former New Zealand fast bowler Iain O'Brien, whose county career with Middlesex has hit a roadblock, is in discussions with Wellington to play the 2010-11 first-class season in New Zealand. O'Brien's three-year contract with Middlesex is likely to be void unless he can convince the ECB to classify him as a domestic player, which they have been reluctant to do despite him being married to an English woman.
If he continues to be classed as an overseas player, O'Brien, 34, faces the tough task of forcing his way into another county as the solitary import. He has hired lawyers to push his case with the ECB, but is also keeping the Wellington option open. "It's something I'm certainly looking forward to as I haven't played for a while," he said. "Hopefully, I can get back in the shop window and then prove to counties over here that I am fit and that I've still got it.
"I love playing for Wellington and certainly love playing cricket at home. If I get a chance to turn out for Petone-Riverside while I'm at home, then even better. I'm not ruling anything out."
Wellington coach Anthony Stuart confirmed O'Brien's approach for a spot in his side. "We definitely discussed it," Stuart said. "If both parties were happy with the situation, then absolutely we'd welcome him back with open arms."
O'Brien was hampered by injury at Middlesex this season. He played only seven of the 16 first-class matches, taking 23 wickets at an average of 27.30 with a best of 8 for 105. Stuart, however, was not too concerned by O'Brien's lack of bowling practice.
"He didn't play a lot of cricket this year so, from a bowling perspective, I'd say he might feel a little bit underdone. But he's a competitor and he's got a great attitude and if he made the commitment to play he'd be in 100%."