Cricket: Redmond shows mettle despite century woe

By Mark Geenty

ADELAIDE - He might have missed a breakthrough test century but New Zealand cricket opener Aaron Redmond at least allowed the national selectors a sigh of relief.

Redmond's rollicking 83 was the highlight of another shaky New Zealand batting effort, 262 for six, on day one of the second test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval yesterday.

While it should have set the platform for a big New Zealand total - a middle order collapse put paid to that - it ensured Redmond wouldn't be looking over his shoulder when Andy Moles takes the coaching reins for the two-test home series against West Indies.

The Otago opener averaged just nine from his first six test innings in England this year, and last month's 79 against Bangladesh was his only score of more than 30 in his first 12 innings.

With Auckland's Tim McIntosh and Wellington's Matthew Bell - the opener whose spot Redmond took for the England tour - plundering the early season runs there was some degree of urgency in the most troublesome New Zealand batting spot.

At least the whispers that Redmond, 29, may not retain his place past the Australian tour have been silenced for now with a 125-ball innings containing 14 fours and two sixes.

"There was maybe a little (concern) at the back of my mind but generally I've been putting in a lot of work in the nets and you have to trust yourself when you are out so I'm not thinking about that," he said.

He certainly didn't play like a man under pressure, cutting Stuart Clark and Brett Lee for early boundaries as Jamie How found the going tougher at the other end.

Then recalled offspinner Nathan Hauritz marked out his run, in his first test in four years.

After Jesse Ryder took a single, Redmond went 4, 6, 6 as the final two deliveries disappeared over the mid-wicket fence.

Next over Redmond smacked Hauritz for consecutive boundaries and his figures were 2-0-25-0.

A clear pre-match directive to be positive was the best thing to happen for Redmond.

"It is one of those things. When you play Australia you have to be quite aggressive and quite a few balls landed in my area and through there I had the confidence to punch them down the ground. " "When (Hauritz) came on, I wasn't going to go right at him but the ball landed in my areas and from that there was a bit of a rush of blood and I had a go. " Sadly, it was one rush of blood too many soon after lunch.

He tried to slog-sweep Hauritz for six, just after he'd back cut him for four, but got under the shot and found Andrew Symonds' safe hands on the mid-wicket boundary.

Redmond's head slumped mid-pitch, disbelieving he'd thrown away a century.

He agreed it was a bittersweet moment, alleviating doubts over his test spot but missing a near certain maiden hundred on a dream batting pitch.

"The ball tended to come in straighter than I thought. It wasn't the ideal ball to play that shot," he said.

- NZPA

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