Trent Boult ripped through the West Indies batting line-up in second Test at Wellington with a match haul of 10 for 80. Along with Tim Southee, he has been the spearhead of the Kiwi pace-attack for some time. But Boult has the potential to become a real asset and take this young New Zealand team forward. Shrikant Shankar writes about Boult’s ability.
New Zealand have been a team in transition for a few years now. They surprised everyone when they reached the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2011, but there were a few seniors in that team who carried them through. In the aftermath of that tournament, they have been a side that has struggled against the cream of the crop. Their batting has a bit of old and new and while they are not consistent, they can be a handful for any team on their day. Their bowling is quite inexperienced.
New Zealand have Neil Wagner and Ish Sodhi as the newcomers. Interestingly, their combined total of Tests is not even 15. Corey Anderson is an all-rounder and he is yet to complete his fourth Test match. Doug Bracewell is also there, but he is not their main strike bowler. So, that leaves only Tim Southee and Trent Boult. While Southee has been on the international circuit since 2008, he is only 25-years-old. Only after the 2011 World Cup, he became a regular in the Kiwi line-up.
Boult, on the other hand, is 24-years-old and made debut after the 2011 World Cup. So, the leading bowlers for New Zealand over the last couple of years have been Southee and Boult. The youngsters are different type of bowlers. Southee is quite tall and can hit the deck harder; and the make the ball move off the pitch. Boult is more of a traditional swing bowler and his ability to move the ball in the air can work well for New Zealand.
In the first innings of the second Test against West Indies on Day Three, Boult showed glimpses of his talent as he ripped through the middle and lower order in a matter of only 15 deliveries. The left-arm seamer picked up five wickets in this spell in the first innings and finished with career-best figures of six for 40. He had already picked up the crucial wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul on Day Two. But then early on Day Three, just as the West Indies batsmen looked to settle in while trying to reduce the deficit to New Zealand’s 441 in the first innings, Boult struck.
First to go in that spell was Narsingh Deonarine. The ball tailed away from the left-handed batsman and found the outside-edge to first slip. Then nine deliveries later, Marlon Samuels inside-edged an in-swinging delivery from outside off-stump to wicketkeeper BJ Watling. Two deliveries later, it was West Indies captain Darren Sammy who was castled by a full in-swinging delivery. Next ball, Shane Shillingford was also bowled by an in-swinging delivery to leave Boult on a hat-trick.
Tino Best managed to keep the hat-trick ball out, but was bowled off the very next delivery in the same manner. Southee finished off the West Indies first innings in the next over. Sure many may say that the spell came against a struggling West Indies line-up, but they were not flash in the pan wickets.
This spell just goes to show that Boult has it in him to do this on a regular basis. One among his prized scalps is that of Sachin Tendulkar and that too bowled. He seems to get swing in various conditions and that is always something which can be very useful. He is not the fastest, but will make up for it with that movement in both directions. Another key factor is that he has the ability to get late swing; something that was evident in the 15-ball spell against the West Indies. And, that wasn’t enough! When West Indies were made to follow-on, Boult returned to complete the job in the second innings and cleaned up the tail as West Indies were bowled out for 175. New Zealand won by an innings and 73 runs.
Boult has a fantastic future ahead of him and what is impressive is that he has not really had someone senior to guide him along the way. Southee has been the most senior member he has bowled with. This goes to show that Boult along with Southee can lead New Zealand with the ball in the future. Age is on their side and good guidance from the support staff can help make New Zealand into a consistent side in international cricket.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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