Quick learner looks to lock up front­line seamer’s role

Rotorua Daily Post - - Sport -

CRICKET

He might not have the sta­tus of Trent Boult and Tim Southee just yet, but Lockie Fer­gu­son has quickly be­come the Black Caps’ star seamer in one­day in­ter­na­tional cricket this sum­mer.

The rapid 27-year-old has taken 17 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 14.47 in his last five ODI matches, con­tin­u­ing his rise from promis­ing op­tion to po­ten­tial first-choice weapon.

At the start of the sum­mer, be­fore tak­ing the field in the United Arab Emi­rates against Pak­istan, Fer­gu­son had an ODI bowl­ing av­er­age of 35.61 and an econ­omy rate of 5.84.

Five games later, that av­er­age is down to an ex­cel­lent 26.15, and his econ­omy rate has dropped to a re­spectable 5.66. His re­cent re­turns — 3-36, 3-60, 5-45, 2-65 and 4-40 — have been su­perbly con­sis­tent, and stand out when com­pared to the Black Caps’ other seam op­tions.

Since the start of the new sea­son, Boult has taken seven wick­ets at an av­er­age of 45.71, Matt Henry four wick­ets at 63.5, and Southee three wick­ets at 64.3.

Some of it is luck — wick­ets at the death can be ran­dom, and Fer­gu­son him­self mod­estly sug­gests that his fel­low seam­ers will likely bounce back and get those re­wards in up­com­ing games. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Black Caps place a lot of em­pha­sis on play­ers per­form­ing to their core roles, and Southee and Boult’s fig­ures in par­tic­u­lar aren’t aided by the amount of pow­er­play overs they have to bowl in.

How­ever, Fer­gu­son has seam­lessly stepped into the role pre­vi­ously per­formed by the in­jured Adam Milne, of­fer­ing a use­ful mix of 145km/h york­ers, sear­ing short balls, and nifty slower de­liv­er­ies to cre­ate an all-round bowl­ing pack­age which could be crit­i­cal through the mid­dle overs.

It’s all put Fer­gu­son on a fast track to be in the Black Caps’ start­ing XI come their ODI World Cup opener at the start of June, but he knows there is still pres­sure to per­form.

“I think ev­ery game you play for New Zealand is a trial in a way; I guess that’s the pres­sures of play­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket. There are a lot of ex­cel­lent bowlers in New Zealand and I think in later years we’ve sort of re­alised how deep our bowl­ing at­tack is. Ev­ery game we’re un­der a bit of pres­sure to per­form, but I’m just en­joy­ing the cul­ture we have in the Black Caps and the con­fi­dence we have.”

The most re­cent con­fi­dence boost came from New Zealand’s Twenty20 win over Sri Lanka on Fri­day night, with Fer­gu­son con­tin­u­ing a promis­ing start to his in­ter­na­tional T20 ca­reer by tak­ing 3-21, in­clud­ing the game-chang­ing wicket of This­ara Per­era.

He nearly didn’t get the chance to im­press though, with the 27-year-old re­veal­ing he was laid low by a fever the day be­fore the match.

“I got back from Nel­son and was a bit un­der the weather so I spent the day be­fore in bed, a bit fever­ish and not too happy. I man­aged to come right as I was go­ing to sleep on Thurs­day night, missed train­ing un­for­tu­nately which I was get­ting a bit of stick about, but I came good.

“I was prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit sweatier than nor­mal but I’m of­ten quite sweaty so peo­ple don’t re­ally no­tice that too much,” Fer­gu­son joked. “I was all good for the game, a bit of adren­a­line and a crowd like that gets you pretty ex­cited.”

Fer­gu­son will be bowl­ing in front of some size­able crowds as In­dia visit later this month, but is con­fi­dent that the Black Caps have what it takes to han­dle the step up in op­po­si­tion qual­ity.

“They’ve come off a pretty strong se­ries in Aus­tralia, but we’re con­fi­dent in our own con­di­tions and the way we’ve been play­ing cricket.

“They’re def­i­nitely go­ing to be chal­leng­ing though.”

Lockie Fer­gu­son

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