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September 19, 2000
Wellington wicketkeeper Chris Nevin completed the second of his two rigorous fitness assessments in Christchurch on Friday and Saturday, and immediately collapsed in heap.
So searching were the agility and speed tests in all three disciplines of cricket, batting, bowling and fielding, that it wasn't a collapse caused by exhaustion. Rather it was relief, and delight, that finally he was on his way to Zimbabwe on Wednesday to join the New Zealand team.
It's been a harrowing year for Nevin who gained his international chance against Australia in the One-Day Internationals in March.
He made his mark when opening the innings and scoring 74 against Australia at Auckland's Eden Park. He seemed the ideal opening partner for Nathan Astle.
Injured at the end of the season he was required to rest up during the New Zealand winter when he should have been on tour with the NZ 'A' team to England.
Then, having got himself in shape for the preliminary tour to Singapore before travelling on to Zimbabwe, he injured himself in the first warm up game in Queensland en route to Singapore. He suffered a lower abdominal hernia.
Sent home to New Zealand for another small operation, Nevin wondered where his worries were all going to end.
"It was full on in the tests and at one stage I would have faced the equivalent of about 25 overs taking balls behind the stumps in a 25-30 minute period.
"Beforehand I felt confident that I would be able to do it. I had been in full training, although not at the same intensity as for the tests. But as soon as I was finished on Saturday, I collapsed in a heap and thought, 'You beauty, you're on your way.'
"My skill work didn't drop off after the injury. I was soon back doing some glove work and had been facing a bowling machine for two and a half weeks.
"At least it was better than when I started my preparation after my previous injury, it was 10 balls before I hit one then," he said.
Working out in the Brierley Investments Limited High Performance Centre in Christchurch today with team-mates Geoff Allott and Roger Twose, Nevin faced his first bowlers and found he stood up to it well. Glen Sulzberger who will join them in travelling to Zimbabwe later joined the trio.
Nevin heads to Zimbabwe under no illusions about the job ahead of him.
"I still don't feel I've cemented my place in the side. Obviously I had my chance in Singapore but now I have my chance in Zimbabwe.
"I'm looking forward to getting over there. I've spent most of the winter in Christchurch so it will be nice to get over the heat of summer," he said.
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