Black Caps quick’s rise to prominence
Lockie Ferguson’s stock is rising rapidly, six months out from the Cricket World Cup.
The right-arm quick has been a fixture in the Black Caps’ oneday XI since the start of last summer, missing out only when two spinners have been used and when he was rotated out for the second of three matches against Sri Lanka this month.
In that time he has taken 30 wickets at an average of 20, with a strike rate of 22 and an economy rate of 5.22, numbers that compare favourably with fellow regulars Trent Boult and Tim Southee and have him almost certain to be involved in England in June.
He was the leading wickettaker and the most economical of the four out-and-out quicks against Sri Lanka – a group that also includes Matt Henry – then struck a vital blow in Friday’s Twenty20 win, dismissing danger man Thisara Perera and finishing with figures of 3-30, a day after being laid up in bed with a fever.
As has become the norm with this Black Caps unit in recent years, Ferguson was eager to emphasise the role the whole team plays in helping individuals to shine.
‘‘It’s just exciting to be part of a fast-bowling group that has so much talent. Everyone who comes on, including our spinners, puts on a lot of pressure, and when you get pressure created at both ends, it creates the opportunity for wickets,’’ he said yesterday.
‘‘Fortunately in the last couple of games, I’ve got the rewards, but in the next game, someone else might get those rewards as well. When you have a bowling unit like that who are working well together, you can often restrict teams to reasonable scores.’’
There are plenty of seamers vying for places in the Black Caps at present, and no matter who makes the cut for the World Cup, some good players are set to be left behind.
After the four who played ODIs against Sri Lanka, Doug Bracewell and Scott Kuggeleijn, who played in the T20, appear to be next in line, with Seth Rance, who was in the squad for the shorter format, and Hamish Bennett, dominant at domestic level in recent years, waiting in the wings.
Given the options available, it’s no surprise that Ferguson believes ‘‘every game you play for New Zealand is a trial in a way’’.
‘‘I guess that’s the pressure of playing international cricket. It’s tough, there are a lot of excellent bowlers in New Zealand, and I think in recent years we’ve realised how deep our bowling attack is.
‘‘Every game we’re under a bit of pressure to perform, but I’m just taking it game by game, enjoying the culture we have with the Black Caps at the moment, and the confidence we have.’’
The Black Caps’ pace quartet were expensive in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, conceding an average of seven runs per over, but that didn’t prove costly, as they won the three matches by a combined margin of 181 runs, and Ferguson said that was the nature of white-ball cricket.
‘‘Guys are allowed to bat well and they do bat well at some points and we do get put under pressure. We’re not always going to nail it, but if we keep working and keep challenging ourselves and learning from mistakes we make, we’ll be better for it.
‘‘By no means do I ever have a game where I don’t make mistakes, so as long as we can reflect on that after the game and work out where we are making those mistakes, we’ll go into the next game better for it.’’
The Black Caps’ next assignment is a five-match ODI series against India, which begins on January 23, with a squad to be named this week.
‘‘It’s just exciting to be part of a fastbowling group that has so much talent.’’ Lockie Ferguson
Lockie Ferguson was the leading wicket-taker among the Black Caps’ seamers against Sri Lanka.