Bowling is crucial in Cricket, and it is fitting that the top sides in the World Test Championship had brilliant bowlers. New Zealand, India, and Australia boast of some significant attacks and have decent bench strength. New Zealand, the World Test Champions, did a brilliant job in the finals and had beautiful variety in their attack. The bowlers just kept coming in one after another, and each was just as threatening.
After a magnificent win, it is common for the winning side to stay in the limelight. Now, the limelight shift to New Zealand’s bowling and pace attack. New Zealand used five pacers in the finals, and each is unique to one another. The uniqueness makes them a strong side, like India and even Australia, who have three fast and aggressive pacers, but also provide some variety among each other.
Let us now look into the bowlers used for the finals, what they offer, and the backup options for New Zealand.
Trent Boult is a star for New Zealand in all formats. He has been a part of the set-up for years, building a spectacular partnership with Tim Southee. He is known for his exploits with the new ball but has improved vastly with the old ball. His left-arm angle helps unsettle batters as Boult has Southee at the other end doing a similar role with the right arm. Boult can hit a decent pace as well and is closing in on 300 Test wickets.
Sharing the new ball with Trent Boult is Tim Southee. Southee has been around for quite a while, making his debut back in 2008. Over the years, he added some new skills to his armory but is still a brilliant swing bowler. He can swing both ways and do what Boult does but with the right arm, providing various angles while also using the crease well. Tim Southee is known to take off from different parts of the crease, and that helps him move the ball around. He is in a spell of good form, having done well against England and making a good impact in the finals.
Kyle Jamieson is the newest member of the attack, and his Test career is off to a great start. While Boult and Southee unsettle batters with their swing and accuracy, Jamieson brings in the height and bounce. At 6ft 8, Jamieson is the tallest member of the attack and can also swing the ball both ways. He’s played three Tests against India and has the edge over Virat Kohli, which helped New Zealand dominate the Finals. He was brilliant with five wickets in the first innings and is a handy batter as well. He has 46 wickets in eight Tests and is likely to reach his first milestone of 50 wickets very soon.
With a high release point and a mean full-length delivery, Jamieson can unsettle batters in multiple ways. He hasn’t played in cold conditions yet, but the start shows that he can go far in Test Cricket.
Neil Wagner is the workhorse of the attack. He can bowl long spells, which allows the other three to operate in short bursts. Unlike the other three, Neil Wagner gets involved in the contest and is very tough, having bowled with broken toes and fingers in the past.
With him, there is a lot of banter in the middle. Initially, Wagner has been known for his long spells of short-pitched bowling. After the ball stops swinging, Wagner uses the lifeless surface to bowl at the batter’s chest continuously. Being a little short, Wagner manages to generate a skiddy bounce and is accurate.
Neil Wagner bought in the full-length delivery in the recent England series and used swing to dismiss batters, displaying his variety in skill. He is the bowler who gets at the batters and unsettles them, which allows the other three to stick to their skills. Although he is 35, Wagner has a few years in him as he plays in only one format and is likely to continue as an integral member of the attack.
Colin De Grandhomme
The fifth pacer on the side is the slowest of the lot. His pace allows New Zealand to go in without a spinner on most occasions, and his accuracy can annoy the batters. His speed doesn’t go beyond 125, but his accuracy allows him to move the old ball around effectively. He is known for his discipline with the ball and is very aggressive with the bat. He didn’t bowl in the second innings of the finals but was influential in the first. Though he is slower, De Grandhomme makes sure he doesn’t offer the batters any respite after facing the other bowlers. His line and length are persistent and can frustrate the batters.
Along with the five bowlers used, New Zealand has developed a nice bench for Test Cricket. Matt Henry had a good role in the WTC cycle and is an excellent limited-overs bowler. For express pace, they have Lockie Ferguson, who still hasn’t established himself in Test Cricket, and they have a decent spinner in Ajaz Patel.
The side has good bowling depth and five outstanding pacers, which helped win the World Test Championship. It will be interesting to see what the pacers do in the next cycle with challenging assignments ahead.