Cairns return leaves big gap in career CV

Chris Cairns' already impressive Test cricket resume is still going to have one vital factor missing at the end of the summer

Lynn McConnell
Chris Cairns' already impressive Test cricket resume is still going to have one vital factor missing at the end of the summer.
The record of the man regarded as the world's best all-rounder is going to be without any reference to South Africa.
For a player who was especially keen to lock horns with the several players fit to be regarded as all-rounders on their home turf in South Africa, it is especially frustrating.
Cairns, not surprisingly, is to return home when the One-Day International series ends on Saturday.
His knee which has been on borrowed time since he injured it during the Zimbabwe tour needs rest and in view of the significant home programme New Zealand has this summer it has been decided it is better for him to come home for whatever treatment is required.
It is amazing that since South Africa resumed contact with the Test-playing nations in 1992 Cairns has not played a Test against them.
Injury ruled him out of the 1994/95 tour to South Africa, and the home series two summers ago in New Zealand. He was also unable to play in the one-off Centenary Test in 1995.
Doubly disappointing is the fact that Cairns has never been as much on top of his game as he is at the moment.
In the calendar year he has scored 517 runs at an average of 64.62, easily the best year of his career. And it heads last year as his best. Then he scored 548 runs at 39.14.
Last year was easily the best of his bowling career when he took 47 wickets at 20.51 in 10 Test matches.
This year he was on target to do nearly as well with four possible Tests still to play. He has taken 21 wickets at 28.57.
Cairns' overall career statistics from 49 Test matches now stand at 2572 runs at an average of 32.55 while he has 171 wickets at 29.21.
He now sits 12th on the all-time New Zealand Test batting aggregate list while he is second only to Sir Richard Hadlee on the bowling list.
Clearly with nearly two months until New Zealand faces Zimbabwe in a one-off Test series at home, or four months until the Test series against Pakistan there is every hope that Cairns can help strengthen New Zealand's attack for that series.
And with such an important summer ahead in 2001/02 when New Zealand tours Australia and then hosts England there is every incentive to try and have Cairns ready for what will be a couple of crucial series in this side's development.
Get Cairns back to health, and Daniel Vettori, and Matt Horne, and perhaps even the ever-competitive Dion Nash, and there is some tungsten-like quality to the side.