Black Caps quick’s rise to promi­nence

An­drew Vo­er­man

Sunday News - - SPORT -

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

PHO­TO­SPORT

Lockie Fer­gu­son was the lead­ing wicket-taker among the Black Caps’ seam­ers against Sri Lanka.

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