December 22, 2001

Horne pleased to get call-up after Astle injured

Recalled New Zealand batsman Matthew Horne admitted to being pretty happy to finally get the chance to play Test cricket again, after he was called into the New Zealand team today in place of the injured Nathan Astle.

Astle had a cracked bone in the back of his right hand after batting in New Zealand's innings and was forced to miss the second National Bank Test against Bangladesh in Wellington, starting on Wednesday.

The worst case scenario with the injury is that he could miss the tri-series in Australia starting in January.

"Overall I'm pretty happy with where I am at, at the moment," Horne told CricInfo today.

Having returned to his home town of Auckland from Otago this summer, Horne has scored 307 runs in the State Championship so far at an average of 102.33 and included among the runs are two centuries.

He scored 108 in the opening game against Central Districts and, most recently, 127 against Otago during a 240-run opening partnership with Tim McIntosh.

"I'll look to carry on from where I am at present," he said.

Horne had been philosophical about having to wait so long to get his place back in the CLEAR Black Caps. He last played a Test in the Boxing Day match against Zimbabwe last year.

"I can't control these things and guys took chances at different times to get selected," he said.

He was happy with how he had been going so far this summer and was just looking at taking each little step as it came.

"I'm delighted to get back in," he said.

Where he will bat is still to be decided.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said today there were three or four combinations that could be used and they were undecided about what might happen.

The most expected option would be for Horne to slip into the opening role which would allow Lou Vincent to move into Astle's place in the middle-order.

Fleming had said earlier in the Test that it was good to see players like Horne and Auckland bowler Chris Drum putting pressure on incumbent players to keep them up to the mark, while also providing an incentive for other prospective players to appreciate the chances they had.

"I have said all along the strength of this side is what is behind us," he said.

Horne said his place in the order was really for the selectors to decide.

"I still see myself as an opening bat but it depends what sort of combination they are looking at. I have developed my game in the last four or five years to open the batting and that is what I set myself for, but if that is not what is wanted then I will have to change," he said.

Horne has played 29 Tests and scored 1608 runs at 30.92 in his career. He has scored four Test centuries.