Nov 012013
 
Vettori marks return with five
Daniel Vettori struck in his first over on his comeback, New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group A, Cardiff, June 9, 2013

Daniel Vettori’s Champions Trophy campaign ended with him needing further surgery © AFP
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Daniel Vettori claimed a five-wicket haul on his return to first-class cricket after a gap of 15 months as he attempts his latest comeback from Achilles trouble.

He ended the second day of the Plunket Shield match against Auckland in Hamilton with 5 for 39 from 22 overs to boost his prospects of making a return to the New Zealand Test side during a series where the team face West Indies and India.

Vettori’s previous first-class outing was the Test against West Indies in Antigua last July after which he picked up the Achilles problem which has been the main reason for him missing so much cricket over the past year. He made brief comebacks during the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and the Champions Trophy in England, but after the latter was forced to undergo further surgery.

Vettori’s first wicket was Craig Cachopa and he also claimed Bruce Martin – the fellow left-arm spinner who has recently filled Vettori’s Test spot – among his five wickets.

He was bowling alongside Ish Sodhi, the legspinner, who is the latest option New Zealand have tried in their Test side during Vettori’s injury lay-off. Sodhi took six wickets in his first two appearances against Bangladesh having kept his place in the side while Martin lost his following a poor first Test.

Martin began promisingly as Vettori’s replacement with nine wickets in his first two Tests against England but claimed just three in his next three appearances. Offspinner Jeetan Patel and legspinner Todd Astle have also played in Vettori’s absence.

Having bowled 22 overs in a day the crucial aspect now will be how Vettori’s ankle responds to the workload. The New Zealand management will be cautious about rushing him back into Test action until they are convinced he can withstand the strain.

The first Test against West Indies begins in Dunedin begins on December 3. Vettori currently sits on 360 Test wickets.

His eye-catching return is the second in a week for a New Zealand international who has had an extended period on the sidelines following Jesse Ryder’s comeback hundred for Otago.

Nov 012013
 
Nosworthy delighted at recapturing Petersen for Somerset's 2014...
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DAVE Nosworthy believes the season-long signing of Alviro Petersen will offer Somerset consistency and stability during the 2014 campaign.

The 32-year-old batsman has been signed by Somerset as their overseas player for next season – and, barring a brief spell in July and August, he is expected to be available for the whole summer.

Top-order batsman Petersen, who has made 26 Test appearances for South Africa, will be returning to Taunton, having played for Somerset last season.

He averaged 46.83 in six LV= County Championship appearances, 38.20 in his seven YB40 games for the club, and 30.33 in four Friends Life t20 knocks.

“We had a good, thorough look at what was available, overseas player-wise, for next summer – and whether we were prepared to wait and risk seeing who was playing in the IPL,” said director of cricket Nosworthy.

“We didn’t want to take that risk, because we wanted someone who offered us continuity and who would be around all the time, as well as being the right person both on and off the field.

“Alviro ticked all of those boxes, and he wanted to come back, so it made perfect sense for us to sign him up for the season.”

Petersen’s stint with Somerset last term was disrupted by his unexpected call-up to South Africa’s ICC Champions Trophy squad – but the 2014 schedule is considerably more favourable than 2013.

“I think it was a distraction in some ways,” Nosworthy said of Petersen’s Proteas call-up of last season.

“So the good news is that he will be around for the bulk of the season. There is a series against Zimbabwe, which is down to be a two-Test series, although there is already some talk that it might only be a one-day international series. We have taken that risk, and, while he may miss a two-to-three-week period, if that happens we will look for cover.

“But having him around for the bulk of the season, if not the whole season, creates continuity and consistency. Having a different face turning up every second week can destabilise the group.

“Alviro has a lot to offer off the field, as well as on it, and, having led teams back in South Africa, he has leadership ability as well as experience and quality.”

Petersen, who hit 167 on his Somerset debut against Surrey, as well as 136 against Warwickshire, is relishing his return to Taunton.

“I am delighted to have signed for Somerset CCC for the 2014 season, and look forward to contributing to the club once more,” he said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club last year, and the support I received from supporters, players, administrators and coaches was indeed special. I’m proud and very happy to be associated with such special people and supporters.”

Nosworthy is continuing to monitor the domestic market for potential signings, but will not merely be adding players to make up the numbers.

Nosworthy said: “I am not going to go out there and sign someone who averages 25 or 26 with the bat, or 35 or 36 with the ball, just for the sake of signing someone. We have to make sure we give our own youngsters opportunities. Our feelers are always out there, and we are continually searching for options.”

Oct 212013
 
Cook focuses on four in a row

Alastair Cook says it would be wrong for England not to think about winning four consecutive Ashes series for the first time since the 19th century.

The last time England won four straight Ashes rubbers was under the captaincy of W.G. Grace in 1890, completing a sequence of eight in a row that started with the inaugural series in 1882/83.

Having been victorious in 2009, 2010/11 and this year – Cook’s three Ashes series – England can make modern-day history this winter.

Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, current skipper Cook said: “I think it would be wrong not to think about it.

“I think I said at the beginning of the summer when we had the opportunity to win an Ashes series and the Champions Trophy – the 50-over side hadn’t won a global tournament – to win an Ashes in two months, yes, there’s a lot of hard work but there’s an opportunity and you have to look at opportunities.

“We didn’t quite take that Champions Trophy one. The more it goes on, the more it hurts because we had a golden opportunity to do that, but we won the Ashes. And I kept saying it was an opportunity at the beginning of that summer and it’s no different now.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen in the next three months, but what is in front of us is the opportunity to play well and to do something special and to win four in a row, which hasn’t been done for a very long time, and as a side you want to be involved in that sort of thing.”

Cook, who was vice-captain to Andrew Strauss during 2010/11’s 3-1 triumph, is not assuming England will make it four in a row.

“It’s going to be a good series. It’s going to be a hard series in terms of the batters we’re going to be playing,” he added.

“They’re a good side at home. You saw how they played against South Africa a couple of years ago and it’s pretty much the same team as that.

“We know we’ve got to be on top of our game to do something special and that’s the beauty of sport.”

Cook will be able to draw on the experience of the Ashes captaincy he gained in this summer’s 3-0 victory, albeit he knows playing Australia away holds different challenges.

“Clearly on tour you’re together as a unit rather than after every game you go home and get a couple of days away from it,” he said. “By the end of the tour you might be a bit tireder, I suppose, because that challenge you’re constantly always under, but not really.

“The Ashes is different cricket; it is different cricket and as a captain you have to adjust to that. I think being through what I have this summer, experiencing that, puts you in a better place when you’ve been through it and you survived and think ‘I did alright’.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of going away and playing.”

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