Simon Doull ready for cricket at all levels
New Zealand swing bowler Simon Doull has pronounced himself fit and ready for a season of cricket.
Doull, 31, forced out of action on New Zealand's tour of England last year, bowled 82.2 overs in first-class cricket last summer, but after a winter playing hockey and having no problems with his troublesome knee he is ready to go.
And just playing first-class cricket for Northern Districts (ND) is not going to whet his appetite.
He would like to be considered for action in South Africa in November-December and he has the West Indies in April-May firmly in his sights.
Doull said he is not motivated by the fact that he is sitting on 97 Test wickets, rather he just wants to get out and play at the highest possible level.
"All is well and I'm definitely looking at playing this summer. There have been no hiccups as yet.
"I've been playing hockey all winter and have really enjoyed that. I've been playing in the Varsity Club's Masters team in Hamilton's second division and managed 11 wins out of 11 games I played.
"The side has a minimum age of 30 so I spent my time all over the forwards," he said.
Doull said he had been bowling twice a week with ND squad members and 2nd XI players and hadn't had a problem.
"I've had one bad gym session but that was all. I wore a knee guard in my first two games of hockey and then tried it without it. It was OK.
"I definitely wouldn't be playing for ND if I wasn't looking to get back into international cricket," he said.
Doull said he is not able to put in a lot of roadwork so used the hockey as a base for his fitness.
"I think I've got a couple of years left in me and I really, really want to go to the West Indies and I would love to go back to South Africa," he said.
One of the finest moments in Doull's career was in 1995 when he helped bowl the New Zealand team to a fine victory over South Africa in the first Test of the series, at Johannesburg.
He took 4-33 in South Africa's second innings as it attempted to score 327 to win. It was all out for 189.
However, South Africa won the second and third Tests to claim the series as the New Zealand team disintegrated.
"We completely out-played them in the first Test but we fell over twice on good batting wickets," he said.
Doull enjoyed bowling in the rarefied atmosphere in Johannesburg and was able to get the swing that makes him so effective.
He also enjoyed the conditions at sea level and found the pitches reflected South Africa's good pace attack.
"They were conducive to good fast bowlers, they were hard and there was good carry. If you put in the effort, you could get the rewards."
The West Indies is on his menu because he missed out on selection last time in 1995/96 and he still feels the disappointment.
Doull's problem in getting back to South Africa could be curtailed by his lack of cricket. He hasn't been able to play at all and with the New Zealand selectors finalising their side on October 25, there is not a lot of time.
Selection convener Sir Richard Hadlee told CricInfo today that the selectors would want to monitor Doull's performance.
He acknowledged that in Doull's absence several other bowlers had come into the selection frame and the choice was looking better than for some time.
"Shayne O'Connor has come on superbly well while Daryl Tuffey is working well in Zimbabwe according to the reports we are getting.
"Kerry Walmsley was impressive in India while Andrew Penn worked well with Dennis Lillee at the pace bowling clinic in India and is keen to put that to use this year.
"James Franklin is good news as a developing all-rounder and if Doull is fit and performing well, he will have will have a bit to offer," he said.
Hadlee acknowledged the final side for South Africa would be dependent on the injuries suffered by Daniel Vettori and Chris Cairns.