Oram set for New Zealand return

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 12:00 [IST]
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Jacob Oram is set to bolster New Zealand's bid for a one-day series victory against England.

The all-rounder has been sidelined with a hamstring problem and has so far played no part in the five-match campaign, level at 1-1 after New Zealand's 22-run victory at Bristol on Saturday.

However, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori is confident the tall Oram, a key member of the team that reached the semi-finals of last year's World Cup, will be fit to face England in the fourth one-dayer at The Oval here Wednesday.

And, having contemplated playing the pace bowler as a batsman only at Bristol, Vettori was upbeat about Oram playing a full part on his return.

"I think he'll be fit to play, he came through a pretty rigorous training yesterday (Monday)," Vettori told reporters at The Oval on Tuesday.

"He bowled, batted and did a bit of fielding. We'll see how he scrubs up but I'm 99 percent sure he's right to bowl and bat.

"The guys do have some confidence and getting one of the best one-day players in the world back in your side certainly makes a difference."

Oram may not be as high profile as some of his fellow international all-rounders but Vettori said no one should be in any doubt about his quality.

"He's certainly right up there when you look at guys like (Jacques) Kallis and (Andrew) Flintoff. Jacob was ranked No 1 all-rounder in the world for a while in ODI cricket.

"You throw that into your side it makes for a great balance, and also that confidence lift it brings to the team as well."

In Oram's absence, Grant Elliott has enjoyed two fine matches, taking three wickets on his ODI debut in the controversial no-result at Edgbaston and scoring a fifty, to rescue New Zealand from 49 for five, in Bristol.

Elliott's performances have been all the more impressive given he was called up just over a week ago from playing club cricket for Weybridge, in Surrey, south-east England.

"He's forced his way into being one of the first picks in the side," said Vettori. "His two performances have been outstanding from where he's come in club cricket."

Brendon McCullum is set to revert to playing as a wicket-keeper to allow Oram's inclusion at the expense of Gareth Hopkins.

Meanwhile England opening batsman Ian Bell is doubtful for Wednesday's match after injuring his knee while playing touch rugby with his team-mates on the outfield at The Oval on Tuesday.

Bell looked in pain and missed England's subsequent net sessions.

However, Test opener Alastair Cook has rejoined the squad following a shoulder injury which sidelined him from the first three matches and would be a candidate to replace Bell if the Warwickshire batsman is unfit.

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