Franklin targets Test selection
New Zealand allrounder James Franklin has declared himself fit and available as the selectors prepare to pick the squad for the first Test against West Indies in Dunedin. He has been in impressive form on his return to domestic cricket, after recovering from a career-threatening knee injury, and could find himself back in the frame after New Zealand's 2-0 defeat in Australia.
He made his first-class comeback last month for Wellington, scoring 69 and taking 4 for 56 in his team's innings victory over Canterbury. Already this season he has made 448 runs in three matches with two centuries and a fifty, including a career-best 219 against Auckland at Eden Park.
"I'm happy with the workload I'm getting through with my bowling," Franklin told the Dominion Post. "That's obviously the main issue, being able to get through 15-20 overs a day and back it up. I've done that the last two games so I feel as though I'm definitely getting there, and I'm still swinging it reasonably well.
"I was pretty determined to not miss out [the 219]. I knew it was a case of getting through the new ball, laying a foundation and cashing in."
Franklin has the backing of his Wellington coach, Anthony Stuart, who said that all the hard work was "paying off."
"I'd be lying if I said anything but great, to be honest," Stuart said of Franklin's form. "A double ton last game, 70 in the first game and a 160 this game - he's got some good wickets for us with the new ball and with the old ball, a little bit of reverse swing."
However, he cautioned against the idea of Franklin opening the bowling. "It's coming out well, and as the third or fourth seamer I think he'd be an ideal option. We want him batting in the top six for us, but that's up to the New Zealand selectors and where they think he's best suited to the team."
Franklin last played a Test in December 2006 and he hasn't appeared in ODIs since the 2007 World Cup. He underwent surgery for a patella tendon injury in his right knee last November and eased back into competitive cricket by playing Twenty20 and one-day games for Australian Capital Territory, before representing New Zealand on the Emerging Players tour of Queensland in October.
In another positive development, allrounder Jacob Oram has also declared himself fit after missing the Australia tour due to a back injury. Oram's next assignment is a four-day match against Otago in Napier starting on Saturday.