December 22, 2001

Cairns welcomes the return of his bowling touch

Hamilton proved just the fillip New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns needed to get his bowling back on track, and Bangladesh were on the receiving end today.

Cairns, with his second-best innings figures in Tests of seven for 53, bowled New Zealand to an innings and 52-run victory this morning to show he was regaining some of the rhythm and purpose to his bowling after taking time to pick his game back up after surgery on his knee last summer.

"I enjoy bowling at this ground. And it paid off all the hard work I had been doing at the High Performance Centre.

"I was more confident in the second innings and I tightened up my line.

"I had my slower ball again, and I had been lacking that. It has been a big part of my bowling. Having that and my bouncer again made me really happy," he said.

There had been a lot of speculation about his form, he was well aware of that, but he said when he decided to get surgery on his knee he had been "pretty much" at the top of his game, and that was how others, and he, expected him to return.

And while his batting touch had quickly returned, bowling's sheer physical nature had meant that he had to bowl a lot of overs to get back to his best.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming showed faith in Cairns by giving him the new ball in both innings and that had been rewarded today.

"A Test win was important to us," Fleming said.

The side had made mistakes, especially in the top order batting on the first morning. But the weather situation had created some extra pressure for the home team and with that came the mistakes.

However, he said, as the game progressed New Zealand had improved, and that was important.

Fleming is understanding of the situation Bangladesh finds themselves in.

"They were refreshing the way they played their shots and they made us do some very hard work in the first innings.

"The pressure was on us all day. They used the pace of the ball and anything wide was hit. It was a delightful innings, and any Test which can produce 350 runs in a day is great Test cricket," he said.

Fleming said he wanted to see New Zealand performing at a standard that enabled it to get the little things right. That hadn't happened in the top order batting while the bowlers were also guilty of rushing things as well.

"But I'm happy we improved through the Test match," he said.