Balls used in this WC are different; have a bit more swing: Boult
Trent Boult took his 150th ODI wicket against Bangladesh at The Oval on Wednesday. They have come in just 81 matches as the excellent average of 24.80. Not bad for a supposed red-ball specialist.
And that is what Boult was labelled as when he first entered New Zealand’s team, a swinger of the red-ball but too one-dimensional to make it in the shorter formats. He played just ten ODIs between his debut in July 2012 and the end of 2014. Then, he got a run of games before the 2015 World Cup, did enough to get a place in New Zealand’s squad, took 22 wickets at 16.90 as they reached the final, and has not looked back since.
Boult is the third quickest bowler to the 150 wicket mark in ODIs with Mitchell Starc, who took 77 matches, and Saqlain Mushtaq, who took 78, just ahead of him. It is exalted company, recognition of the well-rounded operator the New Zealander is, rubbishing the tag of red-ball specialist.
Despite all the other skills Boult possesses – a sharp bouncer, canny change-ups, good use of angles from over and round the wicket – he hasn’t lost that ability to bowl full and swing it as his four for 33 against India in a warm-up game proved. Nobody has taken more wickets in the first ten overs of ODIs since the last World Cup.
And Boult is particularly glad there has been some assistance on offer for the fast bowlers so far in this tournament, keeping the batsmen honest after a period in ODI cricket where the balls travelled gun barrel straight and the batters kept whacking it out of the park.
“The balls are actually different for this tournament,” he said on Friday (June 7). “They’ve got a different gloss on them, they’re painted differently, so there’s definitely been a little bit more swing. The white balls have been quite prominent, you can see the quarter seams and everything with the ball, but it’s fully covered now. It’s nice to hold in the hand and it’s moving a little bit, so I’m very happy.
“Conditions have been good but I believe there should be that little period at the start of the game where it’s an even battle of bat versus ball, so it’s nice to see the ball moving like it is at the moment.”
Although there has been a touch of conventional swing early on to help the opening bowlers like Boult, there hasn’t been much reverse on offer later in the innings. Pakistan found some in their tremendous victory against England at Trent Bridge but otherwise there has been precious little. The use of two new balls for each innings simply doesn’t allow them to get roughed up enough for the quicks to find any reverse swing late on.
“I’d love to see [just] one ball in ODI cricket to be honest,” Boult said. “I think any reverse swing at the end can really help any death bowler, the margin for error becomes slightly bigger and the hitting zone is a little bit smaller. I’m not sure where it’s going to get to but the invention of slower balls and knuckle balls and two bouncers and all that carry on has given a couple of cards up the sleeves.”
New Zealand’s defeat of Bangladesh leaves them as one of only two sides currently unbeaten in the tournament although the margin of victory, by just two wickets, was less comfortable than it should have been after a batting collapse which nearly let Bangladesh pull off a famous comeback victory.
“It was a great game but nice to be on the right side of it,” Boult said. “Get another W early in the tournament. It is always nice to get on a little bit of a roll but a little tighter than we wanted it to become. It’s always nerve-wracking when I’ve got the pads on.”
But a win is a win and New Zealand’s start to this tournament is still right on track. Afghanistan are up next in Taunton on Saturday (June 8), a game which Kane Williamson’s men should win. “There’s a lot of respect for the Afghanistanis who we are coming up against,” Boult added. “They’ve got some quality players, some experienced players. I’ve never played at Taunton but I hear it’s quite a small ground so we will have to be on the button.
“We are looking forward to that challenge and then there are some very big games to come in the tournament. To be 2 and 0 with a little bit of momentum behind us is a good position.”