Black Caps' new ball duo Boult, Southee on fire

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2013
Trent Boult
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ON FIRE: The Black Caps' strike bowling pairing of Trent Boult and Tim Southee are showing signs of becoming truly world class.

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They may not be Lennon and McCartney, or Jagger and Richards yet - but Trent Boult and Tim Southee are undeniably a duo on song.

The new-ball double act for the Black Caps took seven wickets in the second innings of the West Indies in Hamilton on Saturday to set up a third-test win and a 2-0 series victory.

Team-mates at the Northern Knights as well as the national side, the pair have now played 15 test matches in tandem and taken 126 wickets at an average of 24.04 per wicket.

As cricket statistician Michael Wagener pointed out this week, the pair have so far been even more productive than the memorable partnership with the red ball of Sir Richard Hadlee and Ewen Chatfield for New Zealand in tests.

After 29 innings together, Hadlee and Chatfield had combined for 122 wickets at 25.88 while Boult and Southee's numbers in combination don't put them very far behind other memorable combinations like Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall and Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose.

The numbers haven't escaped Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum.

"I saw some stats the other day that when they bowl together their efforts are world class," McCullum said.

"I don't like to throw those terms around but those numbers start to prove so."

McCullum said he was enjoying what the two swing bowlers were doing for his side.

"I've probably got more appreciation of it now, as captain, what you ask of them and what they deliver.

"You are a lot more privy to those plans and what they are rather than as just a keeper. From that point of view, I think these guys are world-class in our conditions and they've also done it in foreign conditions."

Southee admitted the pair - who took 38 wickets between them in the three-test series - have formed a natural partnership.

"We spend a lot of time together during the match and we're also good mates off the field," Southee said.

"We've got a good friendship and work well together and we're bouncing ideas off each other. We had a quick chat before we went out in that second innings and we knew that the way we started was the way we set the tone for the rest of the bowlers.

"We've played a lot of cricket together now and we seem to be getting better and better as an opening bowling combination.

"He [Boult] bowled fantastically well throughout the series and we complement each other well with the left-arm, right-arm. And I think it's the lengths that we bowl - we're both swing bowlers and tend to bowl that touch fuller and on the wickets that they've produced here for this series it's been very rewarding."

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Southee admitted however he wasn't much of a numbers man.

"We tend to concentrate on what's going on in the game and what we have to do for the test.

"But we've heard a few things floating around and we are forming a pretty good combination and hopefully we can continue that for many tests to come."

One statistic Southee was aware of was his 100th test wicket, which came on Saturday when he dismissed Windies No 10 Veerasammy Permaul in an over which saw him go from 98 to 101 test scalps.

"It's something that's always in the back of your mind but if you start worrying about other things then you go away from what you're there to do, and that's to take wickets and take wickets for the team," Southee said.

"It's nice to get those milestones along the way but if you keep playing and keep bowling, those things take care of themselves.

"It's always there in the back of your mind. Every time you come in to bowl your stats come up on the screen and you look at it and you're getting a little bit closer. You've just got to concentrate on what you've got to do and that's taking wickets.

"If you keep doing that your milestones will come."

Southee will miss the first two one-day matches in the series against the Windies with a toe injury but doesn't expect to be out of action for long.

"It's been an ongoing problem," he said.

"Most fast bowlers have problems with their feet and mine have been a bit niggly over the past wee while and now's the chance to get something done with plenty of cricket to be played over the next few months."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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