Wellington Firebirds bowlers need self-belief

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2014

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Wellington's bowlers all stand at the top of their marks believing this is the ball, over or spell that's going to bring a break through. Problem is, that's not being reflected in the wicket column.

A failure to bowl teams out continues to thwart Wellington's Plunket Shield title hopes, as they progress matches towards winning positions but fail to finish them off.

Brent Arnel takes the new ball for the Firebirds, as well as being their bowling coach. His 21 wickets for the competition ranks him fifth, a few scalps down on team-mates Mark Gillespie (29) and Andy McKay (27), who occupy first and second spot.

But Arnel's a frustrated bowler and coach. He doesn't feel as penetrative as he has in past seasons and is at a loss to explain why his team can't take 20 wickets.

He's comfortable that the plans and execution have been right, barring one notable exception. The team's failure to knock over Auckland tail enders Bruce Martin and Michael Bates two games ago was an occasion when the execution was fine, but the plan was utterly wrong, he said.

Statistically, everything looks all right too. But when you can't bowl a side out and don't win the game, figures of two for not many don't count for much.

Arnel's role is to be tight and leave Gillespie and McKay to attack. It's not what he was used to at Northern Districts, where he was the spearhead.

He's comfortable with the task he's been given here, even if it offers him little satisfaction.

"Sometimes I've been going at 1 1/2, two runs an over, but you always want that feeling that you're contributing and in the four-day game contributing's usually about wickets, isn't it?" Arnel said ahead of the Wellington's clash with his old team, at Karori Park.

"I know I walked off the last game [a draw against Central Districts] pretty frustrated and it was good to have a couple of days off afterwards to reflect. I looked at footage to see what I was doing last year to get 45 wickets, as opposed to what I'm doing this year."

He couldn't detect anything so, for the first time in his career, Arnel's started to believe in luck.

"I've always believed there's a right way to get a batsman out and that you should be able to get the ball in that right area. But sometimes that just doesn't happen."

Karori Park isn't famed for favouring fast bowlers, with the kind of wicket that requires batsmen to be bored out. Wellington welcome back wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi , while batsman Fraser Colson has come into the 12 for bowler Dane Hutchinson.

Northern Districts will give a first-class debut to 25 year-old wicketkeeper Rory Christopherson, who fills the gap vacated by test keeper BJ Watling.

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- Fairfax Media

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