Cricket: Adam Milne ready for return

By David Leggat

Adam Milne could be back in the Black Caps shortly. Photo / Getty
Adam Milne could be back in the Black Caps shortly. Photo / Getty

Adam Milne could be forgiven a few days in the last couple of years when ''why me?" dominated his thought processes.

His familiarity with the medical profession is not borne of affection but rather necessity as the young quick bowler has had to bounce back from enough injury mishaps to test the most sanguine of mindsets.

So there will be plenty of goodwill towards the Central Districts speedster when he takes the field against South Africa at Eden Park tomorrow for the opening game of their New Zealand tour.

He's had a catalogue of injuries, from shin splints working his way up to the elbow injury in the middle of last year and the side strain picked up while bowling in the nets to the New Zealand batsmen before the Bangladesh test in Christchurch late last month.

In between times, Milne has shown what express pace can bring to an attack.

In 18 T20 internationals, he's taken 21 wickets at 21.8 each; his 33 ODIs have produced 31 at 40 apiece, the most recent appearance in February last year.

It's easy to forget he played six of New Zealand's World Cup games before a foot injury sidelined him.

''He's bowling nicely, has worked really hard on his fitness, getting his bowling loads up," Central Districts' coach Heinrich Malan said.

There's plenty of goodwill towards the 24-year-old.

''Having him back is tremendous," national selector Gavin Larsen said.

''We know what he offers when he's operating at 100 percent with his pace and ability as an attacking option."

Larsen said, even if all goes well tomorrow, getting him back for the latter stages of the ODI series against South Africa ''would be a stretch". There's a view that one step at a time is the sensible approach.

In Milne's absence, New Zealand have uncovered another slippery fast bowler in Auckland's Lockie Ferguson.

Milne and Ferguson operating together? That would be interesting, but is for further down the line.

Malan raised the prospect of some Plunket Shield cricket next month, if all goes well for Milne tomorrow.

Since his debut in 2009-10, Milne has only played 15 first-class games, taking 47 wickets at 28. Still, it's a nice target.

''But it's about looking after his wellbeing," Malan said. ''There might be an opportunity and we have him on specific workloads to build up that resilience.

''It's not just bowling but spending time on the park for four days. We believe that's something Adam would benefit from and hopefully that falls in with plans from the Black Caps to get over that line.

''We need to build his confidence, have him trusting his body. The sooner we can get to that point the quicker he'll play for the Black Caps again and be a force again."

- NZ Herald

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