Bracewell wants to carry success into limited-overs leg
In some ways, New Zealand's last few months can be personified in the journey of one of their new fast bowlers, 21-year-old Doug Bracewell. In four months, Bracewell has won all but one of the matches he has played in, including three Tests, and is part of what is becoming a braver, bolder New Zealand side.
"I couldn't ask for more. I may as well hang the boots up," Bracewell joked. "It's been good, it's been awesome. Hopefully we can continue the form and can continue the momentum into the ODIs and Twenty20s."
An outsider without a central contract a short while ago, Bracewell is now part of all three international squads and has been a significant part of the continuity in the country's cricket. "I like to play all forms," he said. "I enjoy the T20s and the one-dayers. I've been going alright in T20s for Central Districts and hopefully I can take that form onto the international stage." Bracewell took nine wickets and scored 181 runs in the T20 HRV Cup recently and if his domestic form in that format mirrors his performance in first-class compared to Test cricket, New Zealand should ready themselves for a another star.
They play Zimbabwe in three ODIs and two T20s and Bracewell said they expect a more competitive limited-overs leg of the series. "They [Zimbabwe] are probably more of a shorter-form team so we won't be taking them lightly and we'll want to back up this performance."
Validating one performance with an equal or better showing the next time is something that has become a mantra for New Zealand. After their victory against Australia in Hobart, which was engineered by Bracewell, New Zealand have concentrated on making sure they build on that. "We talked about backing up that Hobart performance and not taking Zimbabwe lightly," Bracewell said. "Finishing a Test match in three days is unreal and the boys are feeling pretty confident. We'll take a few days to let it sink in and our next target is to win these one-dayers."
Having been part of the touring party to visit Zimbabwe in November last year, Bracewell has first-hand knowledge of Zimbabwe's potential. He was not part of the XI that were put to the sword by Zimbabwe's batsmen in their record chase in the third ODI in Bulawayo but watched from the change room and made this observation. "They've got a few guys in the top order that can strike it pretty clean and if they get away, they can be hard to stop," Bracewell said, alluding to the likes of Brendan Taylor and Malcolm Waller. 'We don't give them anything; we have to keep going hard."
While being careful not to show the smaller Southern African side less respect than the bigger one, Bracewell acknowledged that some part of New Zealand's vision is trained on the series against South Africa. "Zimbabwe coming out here is a good test for us before South Africa," he said. "Hopefully our batters can get into some form before they come out and our bowlers can do the same."
The bowling group has come under particular scrutiny, after New Zealand opted for a four-seam attack in their last two Tests. A clutch of young pacemen consisting of Bracewell, Tim Southee and Trent Boult are being lead by the veteran Chris Martin and the growing relationship between the four is adding to New Zealand's strength. "Chris just does his own thing. He doesn't get too wound up and he just backs himself," Bracewell said. "He has been pretty good with me and Boultie [Boult]. He is a great bowler and he has a few decent words to say and I respect the way he goes about his game."