December 18, 2000

Franklin called up with all-rounder's role in mind

Wellington all-rounder James Franklin, a former New Zealand Youth team captain, has been called into the New Zealand Test team for the Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe at the Basin Reserve.

New Zealand selection committee chairman, Sir Richard Hadlee said that with experienced all-rounders Chris Cairns and Dion Nash out with injury, Franklin was being played with an eye to the future, as well as on recent form in the Shell Trophy series.

"He's one of the leading wicket takers in the competition and he will strengthen our batting, especially towards the end of the order. There are some who regard him as a better batsman than a bowler," Hadlee said.

There will be no cotton wool for the 20-year-old either should he be selected. And that will be determined when the conditions are seen at the Basin.

"He's a big, strong lad and will be used as the captain requires," he said.

Having seen Franklin in India earlier in the year with the Academy side, Hadlee said Franklin was "more efficient technically" than several of the bowlers who have broken down with back complaints.

"We have a number of fast bowling injury worries and we looked hard at several possibilities, including Simon Doull, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Drum and Warren Wisneski before settling on Franklin," he said.

Tuffey was always regarded as a long-term investment when taken to Africa so that he could learn and develop and he had been sent back to first-class play to see if he can get consistency in his play and maintain his pace for longer periods of time. The selectors would also be looking to see him dominate batsmen more, Hadlee said.

"It's been a very difficult side to put together, with several of the places being hotly debated. The senior players now have a point to prove as we've stuck with them.

"This is hard on Hamish Marshall, who impressed us greatly with his one innings of 40 not out in the last Test in South Africa.

"However, we had to make way for Matt Horne, who but for injury is the Test incumbent opener. He scored a century in his last game against Zimbabwe and we owe it to him to be consistent. He has to be given the first opportunity," Hadlee said.

It had been great that Test incumbents were now being pushed by other players who have been scoring centuries and were still not able to make the side, he said.

"We looked very closely at Gary Stead, Matthew Bell and Craig Spearman, all of whom have had some recent form. Providing they continue to get runs, these players are very much in the frame for the Pakistan Test series later in the season."

Stephen Fleming has been confirmed as captain for the series against Zimbabwe, including the One Day Internationals. "We have every confidence in Stephen and are sure he's the best man for the job," Hadlee said.

The team is:

Stephen Fleming (Wellington, captain), Matt Horne (Otago), Mark Richardson (Otago), Mathew Sinclair (Central Districts), Nathan Astle (Canterbury), Craig McMillan (Canterbury), Adam Parore (Auckland), Brooke Walker (Auckland), Paul Wiseman (Otago), Shayne O'Connor (Otago), Chris Martin (Canterbury), James Franklin (Wellington).

Walker is named subject to a fitness test on an injured leg and shoulder. Dion Nash, Daniel Vettori, and Kerry Walmsley were not considered through injury and Chris Cairns will be considered for the One-Day series against Zimbabwe which starts in Taupo on January 2, providing he comes through the next three Shell Cup games for Canterbury without his leg injury giving him problems. Hadlee said it was possible Cairns could play as a batsman only in the ODIs.