New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13

Wagner targets his own in bid for return

Firdose Moonda

January 7, 2013

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Neil Wagner went wicketless on his first day of Test bowling, West Indies v New Zealand, 1st Test, Antigua, 2nd day, July 26, 2012
After a tiresome debut in Antigua, Neil Wagner is looking to return to the Test side © DigicelCricket.com/Brooks LaTouche Photography
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When Neil Wagner was growing up, he looked forward to the day he would be able to rattle international batsmen. He may not have thought about which batsmen specifically but few schoolboys do.

Yesterday, he was required to target the New Zealand line-up. Yes, New Zealand. His adopted country.

In the hope of preparing Martin Guptill and co. for the hostile South Africans, New Zealand's management asked their pack to bound in hard and show little mercy. Wagner did that best and his aggressive net performance could have a dual benefit. New Zealand's batsmen were sufficiently stunned and Wagner may have taken a few steps forward as far as selection for the second Test goes.

After New Zealand's heavy loss in Cape Town, Brendon McCullum hinted they would shake things up. Although batting was their weakness, New Zealand don't have many options and can only replace Guptill with BJ Watling at the top and bring Colin Munro into the middle order. McCullum said they are unlikely to do that though and if changes come, they will instead be in the bowling department.

Jeetan Patel could make way for Bruce Martin as the spin option while swapping the pace men is not out of the question either. Although Chris Martin came back strongly in Cape Town and finished with three wickets, Wagner was bubbling under the surface and the possibility of a second left-armer combined with his practice session poison could see him make a Test return.

Wagner has only played two matches for New Zealand, after being talked about as the next big thing. Shortly after he became eligible for the country in early 2012, he was included in the squad to tour West Indies. His first Test, in Antigua, was a tough outing that yielded only 1 for 144. He followed up with three in Kingston and felt a little more comfortable at the highest level.

"Playing Test cricket was everything I've ever dreamed of, especially after the process of moving to Otago, qualifying for New Zealand and then getting picked. As soon as that happened, it was a mountain off the shoulders," Wagner told ESPNcricinfo during the New Zealanders tour match in Paarl.

"But it was also a learning curve because I'd never played in the West Indies before and conditions were way different to what I was used to. It was two pretty tough Test matches and we didn't do as well as we wanted to."

New Zealand lost both matches and Wagner was one of the casualties of the aftermath. He was dropped from the starting XI for New Zealand's India and Sri Lanka tours because he lost ground to Trent Boult, although he toured on both occasions. Now he is in contention again and senses that he is starting over, again. "It feels like the same road again and where another opportunity comes, I will have to grab it," he said.

Wagner knows what it's like to let chances go begging. When he lived in South Africa he was given limited time with the Titans franchise and because he was competing with the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Andre Nel, when he didn't set the world alight, he was discarded. "It was tough team to break into. I wouldn't say I grabbed my chances at the Titans that well. You've got to grab every opportunity that comes your way."

If he plays at St George's Park, Wagner will join the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Kruger van Wyk as players born and schooled in South Africa who go on to play international cricket elsewhere. For the South African side, it will be nothing new even though Wagner had AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis as classmates at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies).

Wagner and du Plessis remained friends since and would catch up when they played club cricket in England. Now, they will meet on opposite sides having had contrasting fortunes in Test cricket. While Wagner's career has stalled, du Plessis took off in Australia but Wagner holds no hard feelings. "It's awesome for Faf to do that well and make that step. I know he has also had his trouble in the past with taking his opportunity," Wagner said. "I've always enjoyed playing my cricket with him; it's just going to be a different thing playing against him."

It will probably be different for Du Plessis as well as Wagner suspects he may know the extent of which Wagner has changed. He claims that he is no longer as hot-headed as was at Affies because New Zealand has turned him into a mellower and also more thinking cricketer. "At Affies, I found that they tried to grow people up real tough and to be hard. There's no room to be soft.

"The Kiwi lifestyle is a lot more relaxed and chilled; it's less aggressive. Guys at Affies hate losing and when they lost they did not accept it at all. New Zealand is calmer. I learnt how to control my emotions more and accept that on the days when it didn't go well there's nothing you can do except learn from it and become better."

In keeping with that, Wagner will look to apply the lessons from his first Test stint if he gets a chance in South Africa. "It's about being more aware, adapting to conditions earlier and knowing your role," he said. "Luckily its conditions I am familiar with. There will be a touch more bounce and pace and it's all about which bowlers will stay patient the longest." Given the amount of waiting Wagner has had to do over his career, he hopes one of those bowlers will be him.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by wanatawu on (January 9, 2013, 10:59 GMT)

Van Wyk, Munro, Watling & Wagner - It looks like the Black Caps are now taking a leaf out of Englands books. The only difference is the Saffas that they have are basically third range. doubt that any of them would have made the SA A side, but good luck for PE test. The band will prabably be playing the whole test - still remember a few years back that England ask them to stop playing. Good luck NZ!!!

Posted by cheesemethod on (January 9, 2013, 1:36 GMT)

"New Zealand's management asked their pack to bound in hard and show little mercy. Wagner did that best and his aggressive net performance could have a dual benefit. New Zealand's batsmen were sufficiently stunned and Wagner may have taken a few steps forward" ....errr does this not happen in training normally? I would have thought for all training, our best bowlers would be bowling hard and fast at batsmen to prepare them. Or is it standard practice for the blackcaps top order to hit a few throwdowns before a test?... Wouldn't surprise me haha

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 23:11 GMT)

interesting that alot of people want bmac to be dropped when if you compare his average to guptill over the past 5 test matches his is 26.5 while guptill's average is just 10

Posted by GreedyFly on (January 8, 2013, 22:52 GMT)

I think Bruce Martin coming in to the team is a strong possibility mainly due to the fact he offers more with the bat. Which is a sad state, he should be picked on the thought he is a better bowling option. But that's not the case. Munro and Wagner need to come in also.

I'd say Guppy needs to score at the top in this match or his spot may be gone for the home series against England.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 8, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

People calling for Patel to be dropped is a bit harsh, he was turning the ball square compared to nathan lyon.

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (January 8, 2013, 15:37 GMT)

NZ becoming the next united nations after England, what with Van Wyk, Rochni and Wagner all vying for various places. They have a small population and talent pool though, what's England's excuse?

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 15:37 GMT)

Play four seamers with Boult, Bracewell, Martin and Wagner. It's our best chance of taking 20 wickets in this test. The spin can come from Williamson and Guptil if need be, with Franklin as a stock bowler.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 8, 2013, 15:23 GMT)

New Zealand and Australia are pretty similarly matched at the moment, and they put up a better fight against SA then Aus did on their last tour there.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 8, 2013, 15:07 GMT)

Having lived in PE for a number of years in my younger days, the pitch used to bes a bit of a ROAD, so not sure how much bowler assistance will be around.

Posted by vaughanw on (January 8, 2013, 14:51 GMT)

Think everyone is getting a little too far ahead. For this test I think they should select: Guptil, McCullum, Williamson, Brownlie, Munro, Flynn, Watling, B Martin, Bracewell, Wagner, Boult. Maybe swap Flynn for Franklin (Neither are likely to score runs!), and maybe swap Bracewell for Martin. It may be his last test as once Southee is back, surely his time is up! Munro has had such a cracking start to the season I cant understand how he did not play the first test. B Martin should be given a chance, as Patel has forgotten hes a spinner. McCullum is best opening and is a good foil for Guptil as sometimes he gets bogged down. McCullum will keep the board ticking over without trying. Wagner should know the conditions and we need a little extra pace in the attack. Good luck boys! I'm hoping for a Williamson century and a Boult 5 for! Williamson has so much promise, but not quite getting the consistency yet. Gotta say SA are by far the best team in the world right now though!

Posted by waitara on (January 8, 2013, 14:50 GMT)

I reckon it's time to rest Bracewell. Been very surprised he has kept his place since his Test performances have dimmed remarkably. Doesn't matter if you are a star or not (and taking a few wickets for NZ makes you a star), he is not bowling (or batting) well enough to be in the team right now. Let him play some domestic first class cricket.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 11:31 GMT)

Is there actually a team in the world that is not relying on a South African at the moment.

Posted by Min2000 on (January 8, 2013, 10:56 GMT)

They're not likely to change the batting line-up, but they should at least tweak at the order. Watling and McCullum should swap places in the batting order. Watling is actually an opener. He's solid and he fights hard for his wicket. But Hesson seem hesitant to bat him there, probably because he's keeping. Maybe Watling and McCullum could share the keeping duties through the course of a test?

Posted by Glenn10 on (January 8, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

Kiwicricketnut we agree on one thing - bring the broom thru and fight fire with fire. Dont know much about Sodhi, he hasn't many wickets, but is very young and could be brought through in the next few years. Lets face it, Vettori is about to retire, Patel is not up to it and Bruce Martin has maybe 2 years left. Cachopa - Youngest one I presume (there's too many of them?) Hey why not. Other than Taylor and Williamson there are no other automatic batting selections. Ops did I Forget McCullum? I'm just sick of being beaten up and then picking the same team time after time and then the same average players (half the team) keep failing time after time. When is enough enough. What gets me is half of you bloggers want to stick with the same failures?? If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you are dreaming if you think the end result will be any different. Thats it from me until the next test - Even I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record! BUT 45 WILL DO THAT TO YOU!!

Posted by thenoostar on (January 8, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

Martin did take 3 wickets and is a seasoned test player. He should keep his place ahead Bracewell whose bowling doesnt look like taking wickets and is constantly getting out without scoring. Franklin might be on his last chance and Flynn has never really looked likely. Brownlee went for a slog and got lucky by being dropped a couple of times. He doesnt seem a long term prospect either. Guptill seems to have a mental block against the top teams in tests and Williamson has only really been a moderate success. Patel has shown improvement as a bowler and would sooner have him as a bowler than Vettori but we miss his batting. Give Bruce Martin a go even if he should have been given a go 13 years ago when last selected.

Watling, Flynn, Williamson, Brownlee, Macallum,Guptill, Franklin, Wagner, Bruce Martin, Boult, Chris Martin

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (January 8, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

@ Glen10 again I like your thinking don't get me wrong my attack would be if available southee, sohdi, Milne, bolt, young, inexperianced but very attacking if you want a 5th bowler its got to be an allrounder or there is not enough batting personally I don't think we need that 5th bowler, i think we don,t use Williamson enough and Ryder when available is handy and while we debate selections why not use brownlie to open instead of guptil he prefers quick bowling is pretty flakey against spin so lets exspose him to as little as possible is good against short pitched bowling and has a pretty tight tecnique not ideal I know trying to manufacture another opener out of middle order player but who else is there. My XI if available 1.mccullum 2.brownlie 3.Williamson 4.Taylor 5.Ryder 6.cachopa 7.watling 8.southee 9.sohdi 10.Milne 11.boult. cachopa can give you overs as well.

Posted by PRAMOD_2012 on (January 8, 2013, 7:51 GMT)

A Stat New Zeland selection & think tank must look at

Vulnerable minds never achieve significant victories cosistantly that is the sure. O.K. the stat I m searching for is that when was the newzeland played with same XI players 6 games in row, this is applicable for Test, One Day & I think for T20 also. I guess their batting order is also not same for 6 games in row for so many years. Can any body have the stats !

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

Swap wagner for chris martin and bruce martin for patel. Munro for franklin for sure

Posted by Glenn10 on (January 8, 2013, 6:56 GMT)

Nothing like a fiesty selection discussion. It appears Franklin is for the boot...... sadly McCullum won't be reading this so sadly Munro will probably NOT start in his place. NZ is damned if they name 5 bowlers and damned if they don't. Sure the batting is a bit light, but rule number one to win a test is to take 20 wickets. Think.. we've got to have something to bat at not bowl at. We need a far more balanced attack. Every team we play we face a barage of mid 140k stuff and we don't have the artillary to fight back. Thus my push for Milne (142 - 148k) and McClegahan (139 - 144k) for the fast stuff and Southee and Boult can use the swing early, which is when they get 75% of their wickets. You need Bruce Martin who bats well enough to be at 7. Kiss Vettori goodbye and Wagner and Bracewell if they find form can come back when needed - Sure Milne and MClenaghan are no doubt risky calls - but its about variety and taking it to the opposition. We have to become the bully not the bullied!!

Posted by SameOld on (January 8, 2013, 5:50 GMT)

Wagner needs a chance in favourable conditions, Bruce Martin needs exposure to the top level before England. Franklin and Patel, while usually only mostly useless, were both awful in the 1st Test. Wagner & Martin are more likely to take wickets than either of the guys keeping them out of the team, and would quite possibly contribute more with the bat as well (what's more than nothing?).

Strengthens the team, develops fringe players... Seems to make sense, right?

Which, of course, means NZ will do no such thing.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 8, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

Wagner is a good pick for the kiwis because he will be looking to prove a point against his fellow S.A. countrymen. Same story when S.A. play England, dernbach, KP, trott, kieswetter, compton- all looking to make a statement which is along the lines of 'see what you are missing out on..' Fair enough too I suppose, I would do the same. The trials of a country having too many talent players and not enough places in the first team.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 4:17 GMT)

I think time as come for the teams of other countries to now pay for their cricketers a bit like the footballers do. I think it's very unfair for a country to nurture these young men & spend all that money for them to be snapped up by another country when they are ripe for the taking. If other countries keep snapping up SA best players they will soon be bankrupt, which will be a shame considering they are a good team.

Posted by stevenz on (January 8, 2013, 4:15 GMT)

Score 45 runs and change the bowlers. What a joke. Read my earlier message on this. To restrict SA to 340/8 was at least test-standard. No need to look here gentlemen. For some reasons bowlers are easy to drop/change/give up on. Not so with batsmen they can endure all manner of slumps and the selectors will come up with a jewel like 'form is temporary, but class is permanent!' lol

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (January 8, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

Agree with Glen10 a little bit about getting more agressive don't agree with his team though, a bit lite on the batting which is our weakness. Yes there needs to be a change in the batting but to all of you who think the bowling doesn't need change as well obviously don't mind mediocre performances (stephenz). There is a guy in form on tour in Munro and he should replace Franklin, Patel was woeful so b.martin comes in for him, bracewell is all over the show so Wagner should be given a chance and replace him, Chris martin bowls about as quick as Scott styris these days, all this talk about his record against SA is junk he's not the same bowler anymore so give mcclenaghan a go,at least he's quick, bolt picks himself.

Posted by NostroGustro on (January 8, 2013, 3:09 GMT)

@Glenn10, appreciate the aggressive approach, but a McCullum/Ryder opening partnership against an Anderson/Finn/Broad/Bresnan attack would have us 10/2 in no time.

McCullum should not be in the test team, full stop. Agree with zombiezon, he does as he pleases now that the Fleming cartel is in charge.

You're right about Franklin though. Must be some serious dirt...

My team for the 1st test vs England: Guptill, Flynn, Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, Brownlie, Watling, Martin (B), Bracewell, Southee, Boult.

(This could change after the upcoming test....)

Posted by Bring_back_Wright on (January 8, 2013, 3:08 GMT)

Wagner deserves a go, he's been easily the best on the domestic scene for a few years now. What better place to give him a go than in his old country - think we missed a trick by not playing him in 1st test (though it really wouldn't have made any difference!). Bracewell has not been at his best for a while - maybe a spell on the sidelines would help motivate him (worked well for Southee). Martin looks past his best and the old boys pace has certainly dropped (mid 120 kms is hardly threatening). One of them should make way for Wagner.

Patel was embarrassing to watch with the bat, and his bowling isn't much better - B Martin should get a go, with Munro in for Franklin. They could hardly do any worse!

NZ has often built competitive scores around decent contributions by the bowlers (eg Vettori, but many others before him). This has often masked poor performances by the batters, but this lot just don't seem to care about batting. Poor attitudes or poor coaching??? The talent is there!

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (January 8, 2013, 2:30 GMT)

Someone stop McCullum opening. It's a waste of your most attacking batsman, exposing him to that attack when they're fresh.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 0:46 GMT)

Martin could barely bowl 130 fresh. and the 3 wickets he got, 2 were tailenders. out you go mate, wagner in.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 0:30 GMT)

Glenn10 you pretty much read my mind with all you said although I would like to see all 3 left arm seamers in the team, SA wouldn't expect it. What I don't understand is why Hira is not considered for tests? If your a good bowler your a good bowler, you should be given the opportunity to adapt especially if you are in form. @ Stevenz Martin came back well yes but he cannot bat or field well, in the modern game you need to score and save runs.

Posted by jphales on (January 8, 2013, 0:11 GMT)

Luke Ronchi the Ex Australia wicket keeper batsmen has moved to NZ to play for the kiwi's. Get him in the side for some batting depth.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 23:15 GMT)

No mention at all of replacing Franklin with Munroe? Is that because it's so painfully obvious? Bruse Martin for Patel, Wagner for Martin (Tommy has been a great servant for NZ, but his time is up - he didn't look good in Cape Town), and Munroe for Franklin, who is neither a Test-quality bowler or batsman. Munroe is the leading First Class runscorer in NZ cricket this season and deserves a shot. He can bowl a bit as well, and replacing Franko at the bowling crease with a combination of Munroe and Brownlie isn't going to cost NZ anything. The selectors need to push the boat out a bit here.

Posted by z0mbiezom on (January 7, 2013, 22:45 GMT)

Agree with @stevenz - don't think any of the pacemen should be dropped. If anything I'd go in with 4 fast bowlers, and replace patel with wagner. Flynn and Franklin should both make way, unfortunately there is only one backup batsman (what a joke). McCullum does not score nearly enough runs to warrant an opening spot - but of course he does as he pleases.

Posted by RichieHoward on (January 7, 2013, 21:30 GMT)

Good the Kiwi's are openly adjusting their training and having the bowlers challenge the batsmen at training. For a professional setup you would have thought "aggressive net performances" were normal. Makes you wonder what they normally do? Hopefully this is just press commentary from management to appease the fans!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 21:28 GMT)

Wow Sharz, can I have your autograph?

But seriously, they need to give this guy a chance. Top wicket taker just about every season in NZ

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 20:48 GMT)

Martin bowled beautifully and no NZ bowler has a better record against SA ever. Bracewell out Wagner in only change required. The guys on the bench are worse than the guys playing.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 20:20 GMT)

I don't know why Hesson and McCullum keep pointing to the "improved effort" in their second innings which still didn't even get within 70 runs of the South African innings and where only two batsmen passed 50 (essentially one good partnership). They could probably have given us another turn at bat and still won.

Posted by Glenn10 on (January 7, 2013, 20:03 GMT)

If Stevenz thinks the bowling was great he's kidding himself. It wasn't much better than the batting. Only Boult looked likely. Yep a shake up is needed all right. Wagners not my choice but is better than Chris Martin. Great player over the years but now way past his best. His batting is so bad we really only had 10 batters and like allot of people I can't wait for him to go. Add him and Bruce Martin which strengthens the lower order batting and bowling and ditch Franklin for Munro. Franklin must have the dirt on someone up top, because he keeps getting picked. Bracewell better find form as well, because he's on the verge of being ditched. Sadly the squad has no one else to fill spots because Flynn's the next one to go, and then Guptil, although I think the latter will make a good test player. At the moment the team to start against England should look like: McCullum, Ryder, Williamson, Taylor, Brownlie, Watling, B Martin, Southee, Milne, McClenaghan, Boult. Lets get aggressive!

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 7, 2013, 20:01 GMT)

South Africa now supplying 3 international teams.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 7, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

South Africa are used to playing against South Africans, just look at the 'England' tour.

Posted by beingsharih on (January 7, 2013, 18:47 GMT)

I am glad both are my FB friends....fortunate to have met Wags n Faffy.

Posted by stevenz on (January 7, 2013, 18:39 GMT)

Classic! Wouldn't you hate to be a bowler? NZ all out for 45 and what do NZ do? Think about dropping a bowler! lol! Chris Martin in this case even though he got 3 wickets and bowled well!! Unbelievable. Yes Chris Martin was THE reason for NZ's poor performance.... because he didn't help get SA all out for 44 in their first innings. what a joke.

Posted by BnH1985Fan on (January 7, 2013, 17:37 GMT)

Please replace Patel with Martin -- it was pathetic to see Patel bat against Steyn and co. ahead of Bracewell. Besides, Patel was not effective and is not a good bowling option either

Posted by SCC08 on (January 7, 2013, 17:06 GMT)

Did this guy play Affies 1st team? Lol

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (January 7, 2013, 16:28 GMT)

Although I fundamentally disagree with the notion of national representation in sport allowing imports like this. I guess the ICC needs to help prop up weaker cricketing nations like New Zealand and England by affording them imports to shore up their weak cricketing stocks.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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