New Zealand news June 24, 2011

O'Brien targets New Zealand comeback

ESPNcricinfo staff

Iain O'Brien, the former New Zealand fast bowler, wants to return to international cricket and could start his comeback by playing for Wellington in the 2011-12 domestic season.

"I'm not done yet," O'Brien told the Dominion Post. "I know what the goal is, it's not just coming back to play for Wellington, but also I want to do it properly and play for New Zealand."

O'Brien had retired unexpectedly in December 2009 and moved to England to be with his wife, hoping to qualify as a domestic player for Middlesex. His contract with the county had a clause stipulating he would be retained only if he was classified as a local player, but the ECB refused to recognise him as one in November 2010.

Amid increasing uncertainty over his county future, O'Brien's season was also hampered by a hamstring injury. He has since had surgery and contemplated a return to New Zealand from his base in Derbyshire.

"It hasn't quite worked out for him over there and Iain floated the idea of coming back to me," Robbie Kerr, Wellington's high-performance manager, said. "I'd be delighted to see him back. He has been a fantastic servant for Wellington cricket and you never get less than 100% from Obber.

"He believes he can get some county play in before the end of the season, so it sounds pretty promising. If he is coming back with international cricket on his mind then he must be pretty confident about his level of fitness."

O'Brien, who turns 35 next month, is working on his rehab but admitted it would be difficult to revive a career in which he took 73 wickets in 22 Tests, especially after not playing since July 2010. "That's the scary bit for me. I finished on a real high; I walked away and people said `why are you going?' I don't want to walk back and people to say `you're not that good'. I want to do everything I can to get back to the level I was at in that Pakistan series.

"I'm a better player now, mentally, than I ever was. It's going to take quite a few overs to find it again but I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think I could succeed."

"I really wanted to play at home. It might not all come together but I'm pretty sure I'll be back at the Basin. I know Grant Elliott (the Wellington captain) wants me running into the wind again. He's pretty keen to have me back."

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