Trent Boult has conceded that sitting out some matches in the ODI series against South Africa could have kept him fit for all the Tests, but admitted it would be difficult to pick and choose which matches to play in tightly contested series.
Boult was forced to sit out the second Test in Wellington with a groin injury which prevented him from bowling on the fourth afternoon of the Dunedin Test. It came on the back of a hefty workload in the opening match of the series - 47.4 overs - where he was one of two frontline quicks alongside Neil Wagner as New Zealand played two spinners.
"It's a tough one. No-one wants to be rested or put aside or put on ice at any stage," Boult said while on a guest commentary stint on Sky Sport during the first day's play between South Africa and New Zealand at the Basin Reserve. "Ideally I want to play every game in every format but realistically it's not going to happen. All those one-day games in the South Africa series were big games but if I missed a couple of those, I might be out there today,"
He is hopeful of being fully fit for Hamilton, the last Test of New Zealand's summer. "It's a big one for us. I am doing everything right to make sure I can be out there and doing my thing."
Ironically, doing everything he can actually means doing as little as possible because rest between games is what Boult has identified as the crucial factor in maintaining bowling fitness. "It's about managing loads where you can at training. If you're playing majority of the games, you can easily take off on the training loads and save yourself for the match."
His bowling partner Tim Southee said similar when asked about workload management. Speaking the day before the second Test, Southee explained that during a match, it's difficult to limit the number of overs any bowler delivers, but they can be monitored between fixtures.
"In the Test match you want to be bowling as much as you can. If you are not bowling, you are not taking wickets and all of the bowlers, during a Test match, it's quite difficult to get the ball out of their hands. That's a good trait to have," Southee said. "I don't think you can go into a test match worrying about workloads. That's something that can be monitored between Test matches."
Southee had the opportunity to put his feet up last week, when he was left out of the first Test to accommodate for the two specialist spinners. It meant Boult had to send down some lengthy spells which was "quite tough" and it was unusual without his sparring partner. "Generally Tim is always out there with me. To have him fully fit and miss out on selection was a shame," he said.
But he had no complaints about his new-ball partner on that occasion, Neil Wagner, who has become a mainstay in the New Zealand attack. "All the effort that he puts in - he literally keeps coming. To have someone like that in your side is immensely important," Boult said.
While Wagner will enjoy some time off after the current Test series, Boult and Southee will both play at the IPL. From there, they head straight to the Champions Trophy where Boult, who is ranked No.4 on the ODI rankings, will want to make an impact. "I gained a lot of confidence in ODIs under Brendon [McCullum's] captaincy. Everyone knows how well the side did over those weeks at the World Cup. He taught me back myself to pitch the ball up against quality batsmen and to get them out."