|Player:||JDP Oram, CL Cairns, SP Fleming, CD McMillan, AC Gilchrist, A Symonds|
New Zealand all-rounder Jacob Oram used a jibe in the Australian press as a spur to produce the fastest century by a Kiwi batsman in one-day internationals.
Writing in The Australian newspaper on January 23, Andrew Ramsey described Oram, who had just rejoined the New Zealand squad after injury, as a "poor man's Chris Cairns", referring to the big-hitting former Kiwi all-rounder. The often injury-plagued 28-year-old responded with successive career-best performances with the bat.
The towering all-rounder made 86 against England in Adelaide last week and then smashed his maiden one-day international century against the Australians at the WACA on Sunday, making 101 not out. Oram, who averages just a fraction under 40 with the bat in Test cricket, took just 71 balls to reach his century and cleared the fence six times in the process.
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said the comment in The Australian had stung Oram into action.
"He was irked by one of the press calling him a 'poor man's Chris Cairns'," Fleming said. "That really spurred him, surprisingly, because he is a fine player. He can strike the ball as well as anyone in world cricket," Fleming said.
Ironically, Cairns was one of the previous record holders for New Zealand's fastest limited-overs century, he and Craig McMillan both making 75-ball hundreds. Oram's innings was also the fastest ever limited-overs hundred against Australia.
Fleming conceded Oram, who has taken 100 wickets in 89 games, was yet to regain his best form with the ball, his seamers costing 50 runs from just five overs against Australia on Sunday. However, Fleming is confident Oram's bowling will improve as he plays more games and will further strengthen their team.
"We'd like a little more with the ball and that would give us more options in terms of the two spinners," he said. "But with the bat, and his off-field contribution, it is great to have him back."
Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist, no stranger himself to batting blitzkriegs, said Oram was one of the best strikers of the ball in world cricket and compared him to Andrew Symonds. "He is a very clean hitter and strong bloke," he said. "It seems like his mis-hits go for six. He's in the same category as Andrew Symonds I think.