Five years after his international debut, New Zealand fast bowler Neil Wagner could be in line to play his first ODI in the Ireland tri-nation series, which starts from Thursday. A relatively inexperienced New Zealand squad, led by Tom Latham, will take on hosts Ireland and Bangladesh and Wagner is excited by the prospect of meeting the challenge of different skills in ODIs.
"I have worked hard the last few times on consistency and skills and change-ups and a few different deliveries," Wagner said. "The nature of the game is that you have to be able to adapt to different wickets and different types of batters around the world. Have worked on a few change-ups, trying to nail death bowling and stuff like that and a few variations as well. It's quite an exciting part of the game to be able to do some different stuff and working with the white ball and all.
"It's refreshing in a sense. It's quite nice to do something different again, different skills. It just freshens things up a little bit. It's quite exciting to be able to play the role if I get a chance to contribute in some sort of way."
Wagner's recent performances in the lead-up to the tri-series have extended the consistent form he showed over 2016 to earn New Zealand Cricket's Test Player of the Year Award. Turning out for Essex, he has taken 11 wickets in three first-class matches, including 6 for 28 against Somerset. In four List A matches, he has taken 10 wickets with two four-fors. In five Tests this year, he has 22 wickets at 30.04 and was New Zealand's most successful Test bowler in 2016, taking 41 wickets - ten more than Trent Boult in second place - in nine matches at 21.04.
The county stint, Wagner said, would allow him to hit the ground running if he makes an ODI debut.
"Obviously got a couple of county games under the belt, played some four-day games and some one-day matches for a while which has been quite beneficial before the one-day tournament, so great to hit the ground running."
There will, however, be competition for fast-bowling slots. Apart from Wagner, New Zealand have pace options in Seth Rance, Scott Kuggeleijn, Hamish Bennett and Adam Milne, who joined the squad in Ireland after being released by his IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore. NZC had earlier specified that players involved in the IPL would join the squad in Ireland on a case-by-case basis, once their involvement in the league ended.
"If a chance, it comes and you try and make the most of it," Wagner said. "In the past, I have learned a lot about not worrying too much about things you can't control. Obviously, getting picked and getting selected and then having to go out and do the job is a different thing."
New Zealand's first match of the tournament is scheduled for May 14, against Ireland. The tournament will begin on Friday, with the match between Ireland and Bangladesh, with the last match to be played on May 24.