Cairns targets Trophy game for return trial

Injured New Zealand cricket all-rounder Chris Cairns is looking to play a Shell Trophy match for Canterbury against Northern Districts, starting on December 13, in order to assess his fitness.

If he comes through that he will declare himself fit to play in the Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe in Wellington.

Cairns is to meet with medical advisors tomorrow to decide on a course of rehabilitation for the right knee which forced him out of the Test match leg, if you'll pardon the pun, of the South African tour.

He returned home today confident that with the right build-up programme he will be able to play the rest of the summer and then contemplate the operation the injury will ultimately require.

Cairns defended his decision to stay on in South Africa to play the One-Day International series.

"I wanted to give myself every opportunity and I wanted to be part of the fantastic feeling in the side after our success in the ICC KnockOut in Nairobi," he said.

However, he did feel embarrassed by being reduced to something less than the pop-gun run-up Richard Hadlee used in the latter half of his career.

"It was so frustrating seeing Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Roger Telemachus and Lance Klusener running in and firing it down. I found it frustrating not being able to compete," he said.

Cairns found the South Africans far more clinical than the Australians.

"Australia might have the brilliant players but the South Africans were just so clinical. You could get them under pressure and then Lance Klusener comes in and gets them out of it," he said.

Cairns said the cortisone injection and the break he had during the Zimbabwe one-day series had worked well and he was feeling really good when playing against Zimbabwe in Nairobi.

"I was feeling so good I pushed it too hard, but then it was only masking what was going to happen sometime anyway," he said.

The side had competed well he thought and three of the games had come down to the last four overs.

"We acquitted ourselves OK," he said, "but it is going to be very hard for the guys in the Tests. I never realised how hard the cricket was over there."

Everything was right for the cricket. The facilities were outstanding.

"The time they had out of cricket about 10 years ago meant they have become very self-sufficient people and it is just amazing the depth they have got."

Cairns said he hadn't given any thought to how much longer he might have in the game but he still feels he can play his cricket well and it was just a case of getting the chronic tendonitis in his knee sorted out.

"That's the industry we're in," he said when asked about the spate of injuries to have affected New Zealand's bowlers.

"I've just got to be sure I get it right," he said.