Quick learner looks to lock up frontline seamer’s role
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.”