False start in Canberra far from bowler's mind as he pairs with Doug Bracewell to lead second test attack in Port Elizabeth.

He may not have thought so at the time, but Trent Boult is "kind of happy" his New Zealand career got off to a false start.

It was late 2008 and the then 19-year-old Northern Districts swing bowler was in Australia with the New Zealand team. His one appearance came at Canberra against a Prime Minister's XI and he got taken apart at Manuka Oval.

With hindsight he knew he wasn't ready.

Now, with the almost obligatory fast bowler's back injuries behind him, Boult is the young leader of the New Zealand attack for tonight's second test against South Africa.


To be fair, it's Boult and Doug Bracewell heading an attack for so long the job of Chris Martin. Tim Southee, who has made significant strides in the past few months, is home recovering from a thumb injury.

That Boult, Bracewell, Southee trio has the look of a fast-medium attack potentially for years to come.

But for now it's Boult and Bracewell, 23 and 22 respectively, leading the way with senior pro Martin, along with bowling coach Shane Bond, providing the support and advice.

"It's been a good start, and obviously I'm only nine tests into it, but to be leading the attack is pretty special and something I feel quite good about," Boult said.

The Boult now marking out his run-up is a substantially better bowler than the teenager of Canberra.

"I try not to think about it too much," he said of that game in Australia. "I've moved on a lot from that. I was very young and very naive when that happened and I was pretty shocked when I got the callup, having played about 10 List-A games for the Knights.

"There's no doubt I was very inexperienced and I'm kind of happy I didn't get a crack then. Going back and getting injured and having a bit of time out and thinking about where I want to go helped a lot.

"And playing first class cricket for a couple of years and gathering that fitness and getting ready for international cricket has done a lot for where I am today."

His back injury helped open his eyes to the fitness requirements for being an international fast-medium bowler.

"It was a pretty annoying injury and, touch wood, the only major one I've had to date. But it made me sit down and look at where I wanted to go, and look at the things I need to do to stay on the pitch."

Boult's ability to generate late in swing to the righthanders marks him out as a bowler of real potential.

On his test debut, in New Zealand's thrilling seven-run win late in 2011, Boult impressed seasoned Australian eyes. The just-retired Mike Hussey was a prized debut test wicket.

"I've grown a lot and although it's only a handful of international fixtures I've made pretty big strides in developing as a bowler," Boult said. "I'm not looking too far ahead, just focusing on each game and looking to take wickets and perform."

In that Hobart test, Bracewell grabbed worldwide attention, his six for 40 in the second Australian innings rounding off a match haul of nine for 60.

It's tempting to think a star was born, but it hasn't been all plain sailing for him since.

Yet the pair provide a good contrast.

Where Bracewell is a bowler who hits the pitch hard and searches for bounce and movement off the seam, Boult is a swing man.

His skills were shown in good light during the recent tour of Sri Lanka where, in harness with Southee, they caused top-order havoc and shared 15 wickets in the 167-run win in Colombo.

Boult is itching to get at the South African batsmen again. Cape Town didn't go well, but it's part of the learning process for the younger players.

"You hear them come out to the wicket and hear the crowd behind them which is a little bit daunting," Boult said. "But at the same time it's something pretty exciting. I definitely live to get the big players out and it's a great challenge.

"I always look forward to coming up against those bigger players and testing myself against them."

Has he one particular prize scalp in mind?

"Any of them are pretty huge scalps. I'm hoping to get [South African captain] Graeme Smith, put it that way."

Trent Boult

Age: 23
Tests: 9
Wickets: 29 @ 28.79

Doug Bracewell

Age: 22
Tests: 14
Wickets: 43 @ 31.93

David Leggat travelled to South Africa with the assistance of ANZ