<
>

'Poor man's Chris Cairns' jibe spurred Oram

Jacob Oram, the New Zealand allrounder, sought motivaton from an unfair jibe by an Australian newspaper to score the fastest century by a New Zealander and take his side close to an improbable victory against Australia at Perth yesterday. The Australian tagged Oram a "poor man's Chris Cairns", referring to the former New Zealand allrounder, and Oram responded with an unbeaten 101 off 72 balls as his side gave Australia a scare chasing 344.

"He was irked by one of the press calling him a 'poor man's Chris Cairns'," Stephen Fleming, the captain, said after the match. "That really spurred him, surprisingly, because he is a fine player. He can strike the ball as well as anyone in world cricket."

Like Cairns, Oram's career too has been plagued by injuries and a hamstring pull forced him to miss the first half of the CB Series in Australia. He made an immediate impact on rejoining the squad, scoring 86 against England at Adelaide, followed by his blitz in Perth yesterday, which was incidentally the fastest one-day international hundred on Australian soil. His innings won the praise of Adam Gilchrist, one of the biggest hitters in the world.

"He is a very clean hitter and strong bloke," Gilchrist said. "It seems like his mis-hits go for six. He's in the same category as Andrew Symonds I think."

Though Oram looked unstoppable - fetching six sixes and four fours - he later admitted, ironically, that he wasn't very confident of attaining the target. Oram and Brendon McCullum were involved in a sixth-wicket stand of 137 off just 89 balls, one which was interrupted by rain. Oram said that the threat of rain and the likelihood of a revised target did play on his mind and the eventual delay did disturb the momentum.

"I was never really confident, I never felt we were right on top of the game," Oram was quoted in stuff.co.nz. "We were always having to try and find the boundary and then [Glenn] McGrath bowled an over with five overs left which was one of the best death overs I've ever faced. That made it tough."

He added that the century didn't quite sink in as it was still scored in a lost cause. "I'm obviously thrilled with it because it is justifying the skills I have in batting but I suppose what is blunting those emotions is we lost and the first half of my game was pretty awful."