Stephen Fleming is confident that recalled opener Lou Vincent can once again rise to the occasion against Australia when the two sides meet in the next CB series match on Sunday. Vincent, who has played 87 ODIs and spent his teenage years in Adelaide, has flown to Perth to join the New Zealand squad following Nathan Astle's shock retirement.
Vincent is expected to open the batting alongside Fleming and should have fond memories of the WACA ground after scoring a century on Test debut there in 2001.
Fleming said although Astle's retirement was a blow, Vincent was a capable replacement. "It changes the fabric," he said, referring to the loss of Astle. "But you get Lou in, who has got skills to offer, and he's experienced.
"Not the experience that Nathan has got, but he has played against these guys quite a bit. He has opened the batting for New Zealand a lot. He has worked hard after getting a setback at home and he is coming into form, which is a positive sign."
Astle's departure also increases the pressure on Fleming, who has himself been battling for form in the CB Series. However, Fleming believes he and Vincent can create a successful partnership at the top of the order.
"My view is that I obviously need to get the majority of the runs, being the experienced player, and I haven't done that so far. Lou can create a strike-rate with the way he plays and if he comes off then it makes my job easier."
New Zealand are contemplating resting Shane Bond for Sunday's game, with oppressively hot conditions forecast. Kyle Mills' comeback could also be delayed because of the heat.
Fleming said his team wanted to beat Australia, but admitted their main focus was on finishing above England in the tri-series in order to reach the finals. He added this would be reflected in team selection, with New Zealand to play England again on Tuesday in a match that could decide which side made the finals.
"You have got to prioritise a little bit," he said. "You want to win each game and I want to beat Australia, but we have to be smart about our resources and look towards the finals, if we can get there."
But he remained confident Australia were within reach despite being unbeaten after five games. "Of course they are beatable, but you have to play well to do it and we haven't played well enough so far. We played OK in Sydney and got close. We've competed in good areas for pockets, just not long enough. I don't think we are too far away."