Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: Bowling battle heart of tests

Mitchell McClenaghan. Photo / Photosport
Mitchell McClenaghan. Photo / Photosport

There's no question the Black Caps could get a right pasting in the test series against South Africa but that thought does not dampen my enthusiasm for it. I'm just excited about seeing two interesting bowling attacks.

Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult and Tim Southee have begun to win me over as an attack that can bowl teams out in batsmen-friendly conditions. Theycombine as a unit and use the art of swing bowling.

Unfortunately, for this series, that unit has been broken with the injury to Southee but that just adds a little intrigue. It would be unfair not to recall Chris Martin, given he's a test specialist and next in line. Or they could go for Neil Wagner. But this Mitchell McClenaghan has really caught the eye and has me salivating a bit.

I've been desperate to see raw pace in the Black Caps and McClenaghan has it. I'd hoped to see Adam Milne but it hasn't happened so it could be McClenaghan's chance.

Then there's Bruce Martin. Okay, he's 32 but he's fit and agile, has played 110 first class matches and taken 304 wickets. Most importantly he turns the ball and has an 'attack-first' mentality.

We've tried legspin options and not quite found the quality so it's back to the finger spinners. Martin has waited a long time and, if he plays, I reckon he'll take it. If he provides Vettori-like overs but with a bit more spin we could actually have a bowling stable worthy of being called a 'genuine test attack'.

I'll tell you what is a genuine test attack - Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. This pace trio is what test cricket is all about. It's about a country's best and most damaging bowlers combining to bowl sides out.

This is something T20 cricket has diminished somewhat. Devastating fast bowlers have been given a softer option to prolong their careers.

Fast bowlers for me are the real entertainers of world cricket. I love seeing them roar in - at someone other than me. They demand their batting opponents not only show skill but a high level of bravery too.

Confrontations last for far more satisfying times than the run- necessary environment that prevails in T20. Steyn and Morkel will try to intimidate the Black Caps batsmen out and Philander will work them out. If they do as expected and reduce our batting to rubble, I won't be too disappointed because I'm watching it done by the best.

Hands up who didn't, in some masochistic way, enjoy watching the carnage the West Indies of the 80s inflicted.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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