Neil Wagner, who is known for his persistent short-pitched bowling, has revealed that he only bowls one or two short balls during the practice sessions. Wagner is set to return to the Kiwi squad for the second Test against India after missing out at Wellington due to the birth of his first child.
For the past 12-18 months, Wagner has terrorised batsmen the world over with his persistence and accuracy in going for their heads. His most recent victim, Steve Smith, will attest to this. Wagner returned No.3 in the wicket-takers charts in 2019 with 43 scalps to his name, although both Nathan Lyon (45) and Pat Cummins (59) played twice as many matches as him. The surprise, however, is that Wagner’s teammates barely ever get the same dose during the nets sessions.
“I actually bowl one or two. I don't bowl many because it takes so much energy out of you. To bowl a short ball is not easy and to go waste it in the nets. It's something that I fine-tune. I know exactly how to do it. And there are going to be times when you get it right and times when you get it wrong,” Wagner told Cricbuzz in an exclusive interview.
Despite all the video assistance and player analysis, teams have yet to figure out a way to manoeuvre the specific threat that Wagner brings to the table. Come Christchurch on Saturday, Team India is also expected to face chin music. But the 33-year-old is capable of pulling a surprise from his arsenal. During the chat, Wagner revealed that he’d prefer a swinging delivery clipping the top of off-stump over a wicket from a short-pitched delivery.
“Getting a wicket with a ball swinging and hitting the stumps is more exciting for me than getting a wicket with a short ball. Hitting the stumps or nicking a guy off a full-length does excite me more. It looks a bit more conventional,” he said.
Asked why he then persists with the short stuff, Wagner went on to praise his fellow pacers Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, and Colin de Grandhomme — all of whom are experts with the moving ball.
“We've got four phenomenal bowlers in Tim, Trent, Colin and Matt Henry. They are the best in the world at pitching the ball up and getting any movement. If they are better than me at it, why should I do it? If I get the chance, then I can obviously show that I can do it. I do have the skills too. But it's whatever they need and if I have to go short then I go short,” Wagner added.
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