Injured players return to strengthen New Zealand team

Chris Cairns, Daniel Vettori, Dion Nash and Shayne O'Connor are back!

The four most notable injury sufferers in last year's horrendous season for the CLEAR Black Caps have been named in the side today for the tour of Australia.

However, no place has been found for Matthew Horne, who has lost his place to uncapped Lou Vincent.

The full team which starts its tour in eight days time is: Stephen Fleming (captain), Nathan Astle, Matthew Bell, Chris Cairns, Chris Martin, Craig McMillan, Dion Nash, Shayne O'Connor, Adam Parore, Mark Richardson, Mathew Sinclair, Glen Sulzberger, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Lou Vincent.

Players on standby are: Matthew Horne, Hamish Marshall, Shane Bond, James Franklin, Chris Nevin, Brooke Walker and Paul Wiseman.

Representing the selection panel at the announcement today in the absence of convener Sir Richard Hadlee was team coach Denis Aberhart.

He said the decision to take only the two openers, Mark Richardson and Matthew Bell was based on the solid partnership they established last year. Their preference over Matthew Horne came down to performances on the recent New Zealand A tour of India where Horne and Lou Vincent were aware they were fighting for Test places and Vincent had won that contest.

While Vincent was not seen as an opening option, he did offer a challenge to incumbent batsmen Mathew Sinclair, Nathan Astle and Craig McMillan.

"He has the ability to put pressure on all the players and that is great," Aberhart said.

Cairns will not travel to Australia with the team next week. He will join them after playing for the New Zealand Academy in a series of games against the Australian Academy side. He will arrive in Australia on October 20.

Cairns' programme had been going to plan, Aberhart said.

Nash was at a stage where his availability for Test consideration was now dependent on how he came through match play, and the changes forced in the New Zealand tour as the result of the cancellation of the Pakistan tour suited his recovery.

Vettori was now developing his bowling load and it was expected he would be ready to take a full load into the Brisbane Test.

Aberhart, who is embarking on his first tour with the side since taking on the coaching role said he already felt in a better position than his predecessor David Trist last year.

"Having these three players to take on the best side in the world is great. We are going to go over and give it a real shot.

"It is a daunting task. But if we want to judge ourselves as a cricket side, and as individuals, we have to judge ourselves against the best," he said.

"We have got matchwinners in our side and we have a team that can beat Australia."

NZC chief executive Martin Snedden added that with players like Chris Martin and Daryl Tuffey also in the side the concentration should not be on Cairns and Nash.

"These young guys won't lie down and it won't be easy for Cairns and Nash to make the Test team.

"This Australia side is one of the greatest sides in the history of Test cricket and it is a challenge for New Zealand.

"But two years ago we took them on in each of the three Tests here and had winning opportunities but we didn't quite take them. But with a couple of years more experience they would have a greater chance," Snedden said.

New Zealand's first game is on October 16 against the Queensland Second XI at Allan Border Field in Queensland and the first Test starts on November 8 at the Gabba at Brisbane.