Cricket: Second chance at test glory

By David Leggat

Former Black Cap, recalled to face Windies at home, can't wait to bat away memories of last test five years ago.

Aaron Redmond has put in solid Plunket Shield performances with the bat since his dismissal in 2008 against Australia in Adelaide, which was his last test appearance. Photo / Getty Images
Aaron Redmond has put in solid Plunket Shield performances with the bat since his dismissal in 2008 against Australia in Adelaide, which was his last test appearance. Photo / Getty Images

There's an ideal, obvious ending to the script of Aaron Redmond's return to test cricket.

Consider that the 34-year-old, five years after his seventh and apparently last test, will play against the West Indies on his home ground, University Oval, today.

Add in that this will be his first test on home turf, having toiled on grounds from Lord's to Dhaka, and he's in pretty good form, and the story calls for a happy punchline.

If you think Redmond, son of one-test wonder Rodney Redmond, might be a bit blase about it all, think again.

nzherald.co.nz will have toss details and live updates of the first test between New Zealand and West Indies from 10.30am.

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"Bloody oath, I'm excited," Redmond said yesterday.

His chance came when Kane Williamson was counted out of the test, running out of time for his fractured left thumb to completely heal.

"He probably could have played," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said of the specialist No 3 Williamson.

"But in the grand scheme of the season we've got in front of us, we saw it as the safer option by giving him another week to recover and handing Aaron another opportunity to stake a claim in test cricket."

McCullum recognises a good story when he hears one. Redmond's return - having averaged 23 in his first seven tests - fits that bill.

"I thought he did a pretty good job for us when he last played and he was probably a little unlucky to be axed from test side back then."

McCullum is being polite. There was general discontent among the players when Redmond was rubbed out after making 83 and 19 against Australia at Adelaide almost five years ago to the day of his recall.

The manner of his second innings dismissal was poor - holing out to cover to the second ball of the final day when New Zealand, with all wickets intact, were aiming to bat out the day - but the feeling is he paid a price out of whack with his offence.

Redmond topped the Plunket Shield aggregates last summer and is among the runs again this season. McCullum said there's a pointer for all the batsmen of a certain age kicking around the domestic game.

"The door is never shut if they keep banging out the runs."

Redmond won't be getting over-complicated today. He's enjoying his batting and plans to continue that. "Just get runs and go from there," is his strategy.

New Zealand considered a four-strong pace attack, but McCullum wanted spin, and especially once Williamson's offspin was removed from the equation. So Ish Sodhi gets his first test in New Zealand, and Doug Bracewell sits the test out.

There's an acknowledgement that allrounder Corey Anderson, getting over a rib injury from Sri Lanka, won't be able to deliver a full complement of left arm seam.

"He's not going to be able to give us 15 overs in a day but he's certainly going to be able to contribute," McCullum said.

"I thought his bowling in Bangladesh was really good, and hopefully he'll present us with some good form with the ball."

But Anderson, who hit his maiden century in Bangladesh, is expected to be a key figure at No 6 in the batting order.

"If we can give him a good base to work from, he is certainly someone we can expect fireworks from."

And if Redmond is part of that base, all the better to round out the story of a player who will have taken his second chance.

NZ v West Indies
University Oval, from 10.30am today
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (c), Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Aaron Redmond, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
West Indies: (from) Darren Sammy (c), Kirk Edwards, Kieron Powell, Kraigg Braithwaite, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shiv Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin, Narsingh Deonarine, Veersammy Permaul, Chadwick Walton, Shane Shillingford, Sunil Narine, Shannon Gabriel, Tino Best, Sheldon Cottrell.

- NZ Herald

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