West Indies in New Zealand 2013-14 December 14, 2013

Wellington high tops Boult's big year


It has been a good few weeks for left-arm pacemen. In Australia, Mitchell Johnson has been tormenting the England batsmen and, in a more understated series and in a less visceral manner, Trent Boult has been doing the same to West Indies.

The leading wicket-takers this year include the usual suspects - Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Dale Steyn; Boult, who moves to 41 wickets with his haul of 10 for 80 in Wellington, is fully deserving of his place among those names.

Quite how high he ends 2013 depends on his performance in Hamilton and the others around the world, but even if he does not take a single wicket at Seddon Park he has had the most productive year for a New Zealand bowler since Daniel Vettori claimed 54 wickets in 2008 and the fourth best of all time. He is now a bowler who demands the utmost respect in a variety of conditions.

The celebrations of the win he inspired included a Wellington tradition of the bowling attack taking a limo up to the top of Mt Victoria in the city - something none of the current line-up have been able to do as New Zealand's previous victory here was in 2008.

"It was one of those days where things seemed to fall my way," Boult said, a few hours before the evening drive up the summit. "It's easily one of the best days I've had in Test cricket, personally and from a team perspective so nothing I'm going to forget in a hurry."

Boult is an unassuming character, quietly spoken (except when talking his team-mates through the spectacular catch at backward point to remove Denesh Ramdin) and not inclined for bullish comments that sometimes emerge from pace bowlers.

His rise can be traced back to late 2012, when he excelled in Sri Lanka to help New Zealand level the series - a country where success as a fast bowler is something to be cherished. This year, on some docile pitches at home, he has found ways and means to extract movement and trouble the batsmen. Against England in Auckland, when James Anderson struggled to move the ball off straight, Boult hooped his way to 6 for 68, the figures he surpassed in Wellington.

He is also quicker than may first appear, pushing the speed gun towards 140 kph. He has rattled the helmets of a few West Indies batsmen in this series, even on the slow pitch in Dunedin, and he makes smart use of an accurate bouncer.

"Trent's been bowling well for over a year," said New Zealand coach Mike Hesson. "It hasn't just happened. He's bowled well on occasions and been frustrated that he hasn't got the wickets that he's deserved. For him to have the day he had, we are all hugely excited for him.

"The way he presents the seam is as good as there is going around. He's got the ability to take top-order wickets because he swings the ball late and he's got a good bumper so he keeps guys off the front foot and he's extremely fit so he can bowl three, four hard spells a day."

Fitness is an aspect that stands out. There has been toil for New Zealand's bowlers this year, none more so than the past week where they have twice been asked to perform in the follow-on. They spent 224 consecutive overs in the field in Dunedin - of which Boult bowled 53, the most by any of the seamers - followed by a swift turnaround to the second Test.

Brendon McCullum is wary of the expectations placed on his seamers and at the start of West Indies' follow-on at the Basin Reserve. Boult's initial spell was just two overs which created some debate given how McCullum admitted it was not a simple decision to enforce. Later, though, Boult returned, the opening having been created by his team-mates, to hurry the Test to a conclusion.

"There was a plan in place. I had a heavy workload not just in the first innings but the previous week as well so it was good to just refresh and come back," Boult explained. "When the ball was new and glossy, it didn't really talk as much until the lacquer came off. So it was nice to come back in that later stage and exploit a bit of swing."

Hesson lauded the stamina of his whole squad, although said there were a few niggles that needed to be checked before the squad for the final Test was confirmed. He had particularly high praise for Boult who, according to the team's fitness reports from the dreaded Yo-Yo test which involves shuttle running, compares favourably to any other elite sportsmen in New Zealand.

"I look at the fitness tests he's been through, and we compare then to other sports, and he's right up there," Hesson said. "It shows his ability to sustain his pace over a period of time. He's a good athlete and still young."

Still, regardless of the impressive levels of energy, there will be no one happier about the rapid conclusion to the second Test than New Zealand's bowlers. They have two extra days to put their feet up before aiming for a repeat performance in Hamilton and a first series victory over opposition other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since beating West Indies in 2005-06.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kevin on December 16, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    Boult reminds me a bit of Geoff Allott, another kiwi left armer who bowled beautifully in tests without getting much reward. Boult has been Mr consistency in terms of the quality of his bowling, even though the results haven't always come. He has generally worked top order batsmen over with his swing and angle. I always feel Southee bowls a lot worse and yet gets the wickets. Boult's a bit down on pace right now but when consistently pushing 140 in the right areas seems a handful on any wicket. Hope he keeps it up because NZ needs it badly.

  • siddhartha on December 15, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    When NZ visited India last year i saw this guy bowling in dead rank turners. He was bowling beautifully there.He along with Southee was consistently beating the defenses of Indian batsmen in those dead pitches.New Zeland lost that series due to poor batting but Southee and Boult had made their mark.Good see them getting better series by series.Hopefully NZ can now find a few batsmen who can average 45-50 in tests

  • David on December 15, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    Got the brilliant Bond as bowling coach which is great but I'd love to see Crowe involved somehow. Got one of the best cricketing brains in NZ and tell me someone else who will have more knowledge of batsmenship from NZ. He is Taylor's mentor and look at Taylor's stats compared to the rest of the team. Finally getting some depth too in all departments. Got to perform against the Indians though, West Indies are hopeless at the moment so for me we can't read too much into this series.If we play well against the Indians, which in NZ I think we will, it'll be a massive step in the right direction. Can't wait for Ryder to return, got an excellent record against India so he is a must for that series. Get rid of Fulton and have McCullum open.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    I think Shane Bonds influence has been profound. The swing and pace stocks look finely tuned and formidable. For years Bond bore the weight of our bowling hopes and now he has groomed a group of players who can attack from both ends. It appears as though Corey Anderson has a bit of x-factor which gives opposition very little 'let-up'. I look forward to James Neesham having a crack with the red ball at some stage- he is very strong and a natural talent and has proved (in Sri Lanka) that he can hurry up good batsman. He has very good batting technique also and I think with experience (similar mould to Anderson but adds variety as a right arm bowler) he could be a great finisher. He played very well with bat and ball over the last few days for Otago on a losing side - hopefully his form will continue so he knocks harder on the selectors door.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    It is really exciting to see the younger players in this blackcaps side performing so well. Consistency of runs is definitely going a long way to help get the best out of the bowlers as now they getting more opportunities to attack with a 400+ score on the board, rather than trying to defend less than 200. Keep going boys!

  • prasad on December 15, 2013, 2:07 GMT

    It was chaminda vaas who gave him some advices when they visit sri lanka last year of course vaas was the bowling coach during that time.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    totally agree with dylan arnold, i hope shane warne helps sodhi on his short stint in melbourne, him and williamson along with vettori in his last years as an international cricketer are going to make nz a force to reckon with. we have batting allrounders in corey anderson, colin munro, james neesham, bowling allrounders in doug bracewell once he learns how to translate his first class ability into tests, sodhi,southee, andrew ellis plus a whole heap of wicket keepers capable ranging from luke ronchi,derek de border, tom latham, kruger van wyk, all we need is consistent openers to choose from. guptil raval and papps are definetly options if we need them

  • Garry on December 14, 2013, 19:15 GMT

    He certainly is the best number 11 batsman, averaging nearly 20 with a test 50 to his name.

  • Blaen on December 14, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    You look at that wickets list, scan for all the NZ names and then you come across the name of KS williamson...Avge: 31 and SR: 62. Thats slightly better than Jacques Kallis bowling record. So why is Williamson not referred to as a all rounder?

  • Fuzail on December 14, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    NZ do look promising . and they should stick with pitches like the one used in the last test match . Flat Tracks would only lessen the confidence of their young and promising Pace attack . The upcoming indian tour looks good and it will be a good opportunity for india to finally win an overseas test series ( if they fail in Sa) after a very long time . Playing The NZ attack on green tops would be tough and since its only a 2 match test series , Nz can Surprise the indians . Taylor would be the key for NZ . and its nice to see the 2 Left Armers taking wickets and performing well , here`s hoping an another Left armer ( Zaheer Khan ) does well in SA and helps india win a test match .

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