Cricket: Oram lumped in with Bond as risky proposition

By Chris Barclay

Jacob Oram was ominously likened to injury-cursed former fast bowler Shane Bond today after New Zealand's leading allrounder was ruled out of the first cricket test against the West Indies in Dunedin.

Oram withdrew from the New Zealand team shortly before the toss after deciding not to risk a calf strain he reported to medical staff before training yesterday.

The 30-year-old had been expected to make his latest comeback from injury after a back problem ruled him out of the second test in Bangladesh and the subsequent 0-2 series loss to Australia earlier this month.

Oram has been plagued by a variety of injuries since his debut against India in 2002. He has missed 16 off a possible 48 tests since then.

He is considered an integral member of the team but New Zealand team manager Lindsay Crocker today acknowledged Oram's medical history meant the side had to accept he would not always be fit for selection.

"The group really like having him available but they also know, a bit like Shane Bond I guess, that he isn't always able to play for us."

Crocker said although Oram was able to participate fully in training yesterday, the player felt his tight left calf would not be able to withstand the rigours of a five-day test.

"It's his own assessment really, it was a selfless decision," Crocker said.

"He felt it was unlikely he would be able to get through the workload we would require of him as an allround cricketer."

Auckland's Kyle Mills replaced Oram after the selectors decided it was more important to cover Oram's bowling rather than his batting.

The return of James Franklin almost two years after his last test appearance strengthens New Zealand's batting.

The in-form Wellingtonian will bat at seven - and share the new ball with Mark Gillespie - in what is his comeback to international cricket after knee surgery.

Wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum moves up a place to No 6 while Mills will occupy Franklin's original placement at nine.

Oram had joined the squad two days late after playing for Central Districts against Otago in the State Championship.

He had a match analysis of three for 80 off 35 overs and scored a brisk 28 in his only innings at McLean Park.

Crocker said it was too early to tell if Oram would be available to play the second and final test against the West Indies in Napier starting on December 19.

"It's too early to tell. Perhaps tomorrow we'll start working on his plan from here."

Meanwhile, Jeetan Patel was released to return to his Wellington province for their State Championship match against Central Districts which starts tomorrow after New Zealand opted to play just one spinner, captain Daniel Vettori.

- NZPA

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