For Mount Maunganui pace bowler Trent Boult, last week’s test series win against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates was “right up there” on the satisfaction scale.
Boult and his other Tauranga-based team mates Kane Williamson, Neil Wagner and Colin de Grandhomme arrived home yesterday for a precious few days with their families before going to Wellington for the first test of the home series against Sri Lanka starting on Saturday.
“Looking back at the history, the record books overseas and in Asia itself, it was awesome,” Boult said yesterday after a mad dash from the international to the domestic terminal in order to catch an earlier flight to Tauranga to see his wife and 2-month-old son.
“But the best thing is that it’s been in conditions that we’re not used to. We’re usually a seam bowling attack but for our spinners to stand up like they did and win the series for us is pretty cool.”
He knew going into the series that opportunities for bowlers like himself and Tim Southee, who rely so much on movement in the air, would be limited yet they both played vital roles in the series win.
“We knew as fast bowlers, the new ball was the time to shine and we had to make sure we used that new ball well.”
While the spinners Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville have quite rightly garnered much praise for their match winning roles, the part played by the likes of Boult, Southee, Wagner and de Grandhomme cannot be underestimated.
In five innings across the series, Pakistan’s opening partnership never went past 40. Three times it was under 20. Boult took seven wickets in the three matches at 37.42, while de Grandhomme with five across the full series, Wagner with three in two matches and Southee with four in the third test all took vital wickets at key times.
There’s no doubt the spinners were the stars though. Patel with 13 wickets in three matches and Somerville with seven in his debut appearance provided success not often achieved by New Zealand slow bowlers.
“I definitely forgot that these guys were in their first test matches – the way they bowled you couldn’t tell,” says Boult.
“Both are very experienced cricketers and the accuracy they bowled with and against batsmen who are renowned at being able to play spin very well means they should get a lot of credit because they took a lot of wickets.”
The Tauranga left armer is looking forward to a couple of days of “r and r” and getting his body clock back to normal.
But the prospect of bowling on the Basin Reserve, with its more seamer-friendly conditions, is one he is relishing.
“Hopefully we’ll see the ball kiss around a bit. But we’re all looking forward to the start of the New Zealand international summer and it’s a good Sri Lanka side that we’re up against.”
The Black Caps captain Kane Williamson, with his usual modesty, wasn’t saying much about his own monumental efforts with the bat but did say he was “absolutely stoked” with the outcome of the test series.
Williamson made a staggering 386 runs across the three tests at an average of 77. That means his career average in 68 tests is now 51.56. Of current players, only Indian captain Virat Kohli at 53.96, is better.
But he says he won’t be touching a bat until he gets to Wellington later in the week.
“Nah, I’m going to have a surf and a few flat whites.”