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ENG vs NZ | Not treating this series as warm-up for WTC finale against India, asserts Neil Wagner  

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Wagner is confident ahead of the England tour

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ENG vs NZ | Not treating this series as warm-up for WTC finale against India, asserts Neil Wagner  

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SportsCafe Desk

05/17/2021

Ahead of the two-match Test series against England, New Zealand pacer Neil Wagner has made it clear that the Black Caps are not going to approach the series as warm-ups for the WTC finale. He's also confident of doing well in the UK given his past experience and New Zealand's ongoing preparation.

There is a lot of anticipation about the inaugural World Test Championship finale that will take place between India and New Zealand from June 18 onwards. But before that all-important clash between the two sides, New Zealand will feature in a two-match Test series with England that will start from June 2 and will provide ideal preparation for the Kiwis ahead of the coveted clash. 

However, that hasn't made New Zealand complacent as the senior pacer Neil Wagner asserted that they will play the England Tests to the best of their abilities and won't treat the preceding Test series as warm-ups for the much-talked-about WTC finale. 

"We're not going to treat these two Test matches against England just as warm-ups [for the WTC final]. I know for a fact we're going to get out there and pride ourselves the way we've been playing Test cricket and we want to win Test matches for New Zealand," Wagner said, reported Cricbuzz. 

New Zealand will have a distinct advantage over India as they will be playing a high-intensity Test series against England, something that India wouldn't, and with the exception of Hanuma Vihari, all the other players are either coming from the IPL or haven’t had much cricket under their belt. Not only that, the Kane Williamson-led side have been undergoing intense preparation and even had a camp to get acclimatized to the Dukes. Wagner feels their preparation is better than ever before and that bodes well for the team.

"The way we've been training for the last while is something we didn't always have in the past, having the facilities and having a marquee up and getting a number of training (sessions) in before going to England. On tours, in the past, you rock up there and you've only got a couple of training (sessions) and maybe one head out with the Dukes ball before the first Test and with that you can find yourself a little bit behind," he said.

The trio of Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Trent Boult have had the prior experience of playing in the UK with them featuring in five, two and four Tests respectively. The left-arm pacer is confident that their experience would be really helpful. 

"But having had those little bit of trainings leading into it has been quite beneficial, just because it's a little bit different, and obviously adapting to it. It's been really good preparation and everybody is excited bowling with it. Sometimes you have to control all that because there's a high expectation of the ball doing a lot and moving around but sometimes you can get there and it can be quite flat and slow as well. The nice thing about it is we've got a wealth of experience and the guys have been there before so we can feed off each other and bounce ideas off each other as well."

Wagner might have played just two Tests but he has played for Lancashire in the County Championship and that should come handy for him. And he's also banking on his earlier experiences and feels that his familiarity with the conditions will help him to perform well. 

"The nice thing is that the nerves and the unknowns are away, I've played at Lord's couple of times now," he said. "I've played one Test there in 2013 and a couple of county games too, so it's nice to get there when things feel familiar. Sometimes you can get there and get a little but starstruck with the whole experience and everything because you grow up as a kid wanting to be there and all those sort of things. Having been there and played on those grounds, we've been around those conditions so it's nice to go there and hit the ground running, knowing what to expect."

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