Oh brother, look at backyard Trent Boult now

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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ON FIRE: The Black Caps' strike bowling pairing of Trent Boult and Tim Southee are showing signs of becoming truly world class.

It's a scene that has been repeated, and will continue to be repeated, around Kiwi backyards in years to come.

Two young fellas - sometimes brothers, other times cousins or mates - locked in their own version of test match cricket.

Bowling beamers at each other; getting a boundary by hitting the back fence; playing until you can hardly see the ball as night falls.

Parents, you know the deal: give them a bat and a ball, and forget about them for an entire summer.

Growing up in Ohope and Tauranga, the Boult boys were no different. Jono, the elder of the two, would bat most of the time. Trent would do most of the bowling.

"We didn't really play for our school," Jono said. "We just played backyard cricket.

"I was always batting. She was a pretty dodgy wicket in Ohope, that's for sure."

Such is the natural order of backyard cricket. One kid usually bats, the other usually bowls. Day after day, month after month, year after year.

The Boult boys are still going at it - but the strength of the opposition, and quality of the wickets, have changed.

Over the past year, Trent, that lanky kid from Ohope, has emerged as the key part of the Black Caps' test bowling lineup.

Now 24, the younger Boult has played 20 tests for New Zealand since his debut in that famous victory against Australia in Hobart in December 2011.

But it is in the past 12 months that he has really secured his place in New Zealand's five-day team.

A strong home series against England last summer set the wheels in motion, but he really made a statement last December , claiming his first 10-wicket bag in tests, 10 for 80, and single-handedly destroying the Windies lineup at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.

The green top at Eden Park this week has seen his eyes light up again. He claimed 3-38 in the first innings as the Black Caps seamers tore through the Indian batting order over the last two days.

The lefty is developing the full set of tricks as a seamer. He is increasingly landing the ball on a dime and getting dangerous movement in the air, given the right conditions.

Boult, however, doesn't talk things up. Sure, it's been a good 12 months, but it's always the next challenge that excites him.

"It seems a long time ago since the West Indies series as it was," he told Sunday News.

"I remember floating on cloud nine when that happened, but it's kind of a funny one because cricket goes. Things happen, and you kind of forget them.

"But yeah, it's been a good year personally. I'm just looking forward to the challenge against India - one of the best teams in the world - over the next couple of weeks."

Boult talks up the influence of Black Caps bowling coach Shane Bond on his development as a seamer.

"He's someone I always looked up to, and probably the whole bowling group as well," he said.

"He was a world-class bowler, in my eyes, and one of New Zealand's best ever.

"To have him on board, influencing us and sharing his secrets, has been great. He has been a big part in fostering our bowling, and creating that tightness."

The influence of Boult's older brother, who is now 28 and a reliable short-form off-spinner for Northern Districts, has played a big part in his rise too.

Sure, Jono made his younger brother roll his arm over all those times in the backyard, but it is now reaping benefits.

"I turn to him a lot with questions," Boult said.

"[Jono] has got a pretty switched on way of thinking about the game - and is one of the first people I ring if things are going wrong for me. It's brilliant to have something like that."

Sunday News