New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, Wellington, 3rd day March 21, 2010

VB badge kiss is very Bollinger


In less than four months, Doug Bollinger has become the most important bowler in Australia's Test team but he still hasn't perfected his celebrations. When he completed his second Test five-for, he looked down and kissed his shirt, hesitated for a second as he realised he'd actually got the VB sponsor's logo, and tried to recover by switching sides and finding the Australian badge.

He laughed it off. He's used to doing that. He did the badge-kissing thing in Perth in December, but joked it was only because he'd seen someone else do it. He was asked in the lead-up to this game how his hairpiece would stand up in the Wellington wind and said: "Next question".

He bugs his team-mates by repeating the same joke over and over in the change-rooms: "Two fish are in a tank and one says to the other 'how do you drive this thing?'" He would be a fun but exhausting man to be around.

Fortunately, there is more to Bollinger than a unique personality. His seven wickets so far in the Wellington Test put Australia firmly in control and it continued his outstanding summer in the five-day game. Since returning to the team at the start of December, he has collected 32 breakthroughs at 18.06, easily the most of any Australian player in that time.

Mitchell Johnson keeps finding victims and Nathan Hauritz has discovered his niche but Bollinger has become the spearhead. He is the man to whom Ricky Ponting turns when a change in momentum is required, or to convert a couple of wickets into a collapse. He achieved both those feats on the third day, first running through the New Zealand tail to allow Ponting to enforce the follow-on for the second time this season, then breaking an opening stand that had swelled to 70.

His speed and accuracy allow batsmen no respite and that was what upset BJ Watling, who had cautiously worked his way to 33 when he was lbw to a ball that pitched in line and straightened, for the second time in the game. His angle soon accounted for Peter Ingram and he edged behind.

The 5 for 28 that he secured in the first innings was fitting reward for his persistence. The same energy that nags good-naturedly at his team-mates causes far more worries for his opponents and even late in the afternoon, after a day and a half of bowling, he was still peppering down bouncers and making the batsmen jump.

"I'm trying to [intimidate]," Bollinger said. "That's just how I bowl, I try to be aggressive and bowl in the batsman's face and make them as uncomfortable as I can. That's what a fast bowler's job is to do. I felt really, really good today. I didn't try to overdo anything. I just feel like the ball is coming out of my hand really well at the moment and I'm just really, really enjoying my cricket."

Bollinger makes otherwise pedestrian periods of Test cricket compulsory viewing. When he's sprinting in it is impossible to look away for fear of missing a wicket, an appeal or a moment of mirth.

This Test has had the lot: 7 for 58, a laughably optimistic appeal (he was the only man to go up for a bump ball return catch and you could sense his team-mates cringe) and a VB kiss that was replayed over and over. The team's most important bowler is also its most watchable.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    Aussies are going through pace bowlers at a very fast clip...few weeks ago Doug was not even in the reserves....who knows who will be in the next team. As for Johnson he is not the bowler he was once....

  • Michael on March 22, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    Yeah, good one, CowsCorner. He has great figures against everyone he's had the opportunity to bowl to, but that's never enough for some. You can only bowl to the opposition you've got, and then you've still got to do it.

    Your comment is a bit like a mate of mine dismissing a girlfriend's double century in women's cricket, because it was in women's cricket. She still had to score the runs.

  • Beau on March 22, 2010, 0:40 GMT

    @cowscorner - you must be unfamiliar with the Australian Cricket Fan. We LOOOOVE you if you win - against anyone, ever. But we HATE you when you lose, against anyone, ever. I have heard ACFs call for entire teams to be sacked after a a poor session. ONE SESSION! We'll see how his antics and rough scone are appreciated when we see figures of 0/100 against his name.

    But for now, prepare to be inundated with yobbos telling you how wrong you are, how stupid you are, how Doug is the second coming and that the Aussie cricket team are THE GRATEST SHOW ON URTH!!!1!!!1!!!!!!

  • Worrell on March 22, 2010, 0:01 GMT

    I m sure the writer knows who Bollinger saw doing the badge kissing thing, but as usual he feigns ignorance, to the point that he would not name him. Probably beaus he is a 21 yr old newcomer of blistering pace, not from Australia nor has he achieved anything close to Bolinger's stats. No problem.

  • hayden on March 21, 2010, 22:43 GMT

    not a bad effort those figures! back in the australian summer the crowd were already chanting his name and this is before his 5th test! i dont think warne even got to that status, that quickly! @CowsCorner he did debut against south africa!

  • Todd on March 21, 2010, 21:52 GMT

    Just thought someone should point out, Bollinger is yet to bowl against anyone who can bat yet!!! West Indies and Pakistan have really not tested him, if he had toured Sri Lanka and India and averaged 18, fair play, but has not!

  • Nandhakumar on March 21, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    nobody asks Ponting about his hairpiece, but keeps bugging Dougie...leave the guy alone...

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    mate what you giving out to ya man for?

  • Simon on March 21, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    I don't find your comments entertaining at all. I do however, find Doug Bollinger a breath of fresh air in a game, and a world, that can take itself too seriously at times.

  • jasdeep on March 21, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    Some one tell bollinger that VB stands for Victorian Bitter and not Victoria Beckham

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