Cricket: Oram proud of his key role

By Andrew Alderson

If the World Cup does end up being Jacob Oram's final hurrah as a Black Cap, he has made it memorable.

As someone tormented by injury for so much of his career, his unbridled delight at taking wickets and catches to help defeat South Africa revealed a 32-year-old youthfulness that has not been evident for a while.

Oram was man-of-the-match with his four wickets for 39 and two catches, the first of which, off the bat of Jacques Kallis, turned the game for New Zealand.

It was his first four-wicket bag or better in 5 years and he now has the most wickets by a New Zealander at World Cups with 36 in 22 matches. But those matters seem trivial when put in the context of a World Cup semifinal.

"I haven't had too many sweeter moments in my career. I'm proud to be part of the team right now. We will take a massive amount of belief out of a result like this.

"We're perennial semifinalists and have got to try to put that right as the first New Zealand team to make a World Cup final."

Captain Daniel Vettori has played plenty of one-day internationals with Oram, 127 to be precise.

He says Oram's effort was one of the best performances he's seen.

"He's probably under-appreciated for what he's given over the years. He was outstanding. I couldn't ask for more from one of my senior guys, given him and Tim [Southee] were the only seamers. Then he took that catch on the boundary."

"That catch" was a pivotal moment to dismiss a formidable Kallis on 47. Oram says he reverted to instinct running back to deep midwicket.

"It happened so quickly. It was a massive moment because his partnership [39 runs]with AB de Villiers looked comfortable. If they'd put on 50 and gone on, it would have taken the game away from us.

"I don't think Tim meant to bowl a short ball and Kallis smoked it. He got it out of the middle; thankfully I didn't have much time to think.

Oram says he was aware the tag of highest wicket-taker at a World Cup was looming and it is a mantle that sits proudly, but not quite on a level with man-of-the-match.

"When I got the first wicket the guys were congratulating me [for passing Chris Harris' mark of 32]. But obviously the bigger thing was to win."

Oram has been good-natured about his fragile physical state over the years but yesterday was a chance to get a playful jab back at the critics.

"It just shows how physically tough I am," he joked. "Or stubborn and stupid. I don't know. Maybe it's all of them rolled into one."

- Herald on Sunday

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