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Jamieson-like Henry Shipley ready for the big stage

His towering frame and ability to generate steep bounce could give NZ's attack a point of difference in Pakistan and India

Deivarayan Muthu
Henry Shipley's national call-up is reward for his remarkable consistency with the ball in domestic cricket  •  Getty Images

Henry Shipley's national call-up is reward for his remarkable consistency with the ball in domestic cricket  •  Getty Images

Henry Shipley often imagined himself as Shane Bond during Christmas Day clashes with his cousins when he was a kid. Having earned his maiden New Zealand call-up, Shipley, now 26, is on the verge of becoming a Black Cap himself.
While Shipley can generate sharp pace, he is more of a bowler in the mould of Kyle Jamieson than Bond. His towering frame (1.96 metres) and ability to produce steep bounce often draws comparisons with Jamieson. It's something that even selector Gavin Larsen has acknowledged.
"Bounce is the key for him, given his height, but equally the reason he gets given the new ball at times for Canterbury is he has the ability to move the ball in the air," Larsen had said after selecting Shipley in the New Zealand squads for the tours of Pakistan and India. "Anyone that can bowl à la Kyle Jamieson with that sort of a height, swinging in and getting bounce, the potential is there that he will be a handful."
In the absence of Jamieson, who is still recovering from a back injury, Shipley is expected to provide New Zealand's attack with a potent point of difference on what could be flat tracks in Pakistan and India. Bowling to the likes of Babar Azam and Virat Kohli could unnerve a rookie, but Shipley plans to shut out the outside noise and just do his job.
"I think it will just be cool to say [post-tour that] I've been over there, and not be too worried about what happens I guess," Shipley said. "We want to come away with some wins and hopefully win both series, but it's [about] just getting over there, getting your feet on the ground and doing your job that's at hand."
Shipley's national call-up is reward for his remarkable consistency with the ball on the easy-paced hit-through-the-line one-day pitches and small grounds in New Zealand in domestic cricket. In November, he took career-best List A figures of 6 for 40, including a hat-trick in the Ford Trophy opener for Canterbury against Wellington. It was the first hat-trick for Canterbury and only fourth overall in 52 years of the tournament.
Shipley continued his rich form in the Ford Trophy and is currently the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament, with 12 strikes in five games at an economy rate of 4.20. Earlier in last season's 20-over Super Smash, he had emerged as the top wicket-taker, with 18 scalps in 11 games at an economy rate of 7.25 in Canterbury's run to the final, where they lost to Northern Districts.
Shipley's Canterbury coach Peter Fulton has had a hand in his progress. "Fulty is a pretty straight up character," Shipley said. "He tells you what you need to do to get better and he can be pretty black and white. When you don't have that clarity, it can be quite hard to understand what it is that's going to get you to the next level. He simplified it from the very beginning and kind of took my thoughts away from it and let me do my work at the domestic level."
Working with international players like Tom Latham and Daryl Mitchell at Canterbury has also helped Shipley. He has now reunited with them in Pakistan.
"I don't know [on what has clicked for him recently]. I think there can be some individual success but on the back of a team performance as well," Shipley said. "I've been quite lucky with Canterbury, and we've had a lot of success in all three formats and the guys around you pave the way for the individual side of things."
Shipley hails from a strong cricketing background. His uncle Mark Priest was a stalwart for Canterbury and even played 21 international games for New Zealand while his father James is a "cricket tragic".
"My old man is a bit of a cricket tragic, and my uncle played a bit of cricket for New Zealand and Canterbury," Shipley said. "So that [cricket] was always around me growing up and I've always been involved with Canterbury Country, Greendale and Darefield [clubs]. I guess it was something not I didn't have a choice, but it was put in front of me from an early age and I kind of just took it from there."
However, the path to the top hasn't been smooth. Shipley has been on New Zealand's radar for a while, but multiple injuries have derailed his career. The injuries bothered him so much that at one point he stopped enjoying his cricket. Shipley has now learnt to embrace setbacks and just wants to cherish every moment on the field.
"I guess I'm never really looking to play safe," Shipley said. "I think injuries are just a part of it and I guess they're frustrating whenever they pop up and I'm sure they're going to pop up in the future. It's one of those things where you try and get on the park and stay there and enjoy it as long as you can.
"For a while there, I was probably so conscious of that side of the game that I never really just enjoyed playing and perhaps something in the last 24 months has changed and the attitude has been to just enjoy being out there each game."
Shipley can also give it a good whack with the bat, as his T20 strike rate of 137 indicates. Larsen backs Shipley to become a genuine allrounder.
"He's a player who has been on our radar for a few years now - probably five-six years," Larsen said. "He has performed really well over the past couple of years. I consider him to be a genuine allrounder. He's tall and he's a power-hitter. So, he offers a really good all-round skillset. Genuine allrounders are like gold dust in cricket and we would like to think he will develop his skills on this tour and push hard for us."
Trent Boult, Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill have all turned down their New Zealand contracts to become T20 freelancers, but the domestic system is still robust enough to feed promising talents like Shipley to the national side. A strong early impression in Pakistan and India could potentially propel Shipley into New Zealand's World Cup plans.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo