Cricket: Milne can shine with help from friends

By Kris Shannon

If Adam Milne is to become more than a Twenty20 specialist for New Zealand, the Sri Lanka tour is where it will happen. Photo / Getty Images.
If Adam Milne is to become more than a Twenty20 specialist for New Zealand, the Sri Lanka tour is where it will happen. Photo / Getty Images.

If Adam Milne is to become more than a Twenty20 specialist for New Zealand, the Sri Lanka tour is where it will happen.

Not only has Milne been named in the Black Caps' one-day squad - a first for the 20-year-old - but he has been placed in the perfect situation to succeed.

The man who oversaw his initial rise to the national set-up, Shane Bond, is now his bowling coach at international level, meaning Milne's greatest help is now available to him every day.

He is also surrounded by a group of young seamers to help him avoid feeling overawed, a unit known to bring out the best in one another.

And, if in need of advice about the local conditions, Milne can chew the ear of Chaminda Vaas - one of Sri Lanka's best fast bowlers and acting in an advisory role for this tour.

It all bodes well for the young man earmarked as New Zealand's next genuine quick, a bowler with only four T20s under his belt but with aspirations of making a far greater impact.

"It's awesome to be involved in the ODIs for the first time," Milne said. "I'm looking forward to hopefully getting out on the park and showing what I can do."

The most eye-catching thing the Central Districts bowler can do is send the ball down quicker than most. In a New Zealand side that has lacked true pace since the retirement of Bond - though Trent Boult showed glimpses in the recent tour of India - Milne is a weapon Kiwi captains rarely possess in their arsenal.

"I've been picked for extra pace so I'd like to think I can come in and try to out-pace a lot of the batsmen," he said. "If you put it in good areas, that pace leaves [batsmen] without much time to react.

"I get it around 145km/h, so I'll keep it going at that and try to get it a bit quicker. But I'm also starting to develop a little extra in my bowling, which is essential at this top level."

Anything extra Milne manages to add will probably have a fair bit to do with Bond. The pair have had something of a mentor/protege relationship since Bond began to work with the Stags' bowlers after pulling stumps on his career in 2010, and that will now continue within the national environment.

"It's really good to have someone familiar around the set-up and I feel comfortable talking to him about different scenarios," Milne said.

"Our actions have been said to have been quite similar, so it's good to have someone like that you can feed off and work off his experience."

Milne has some recent experience of his own in the sub-continent, being part of the New Zealand squad for last month's T20 World Cup campaign in Sri Lanka. He even bowled in Pallekele - the venue for Wednesday morning's solitary T20 - but he doesn't have far to look if he requires any insider information.

Vaas, the team's new specialist bowling coach, took 355 test wickets for Sri Lanka before retiring from international cricket last year, and New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said his assistance would be invaluable for the team's inexperienced attack.

"He'll be able to offer some huge value to those young developing bowlers. He'll bring some nous in terms of how to bowl in the sub-continent."

If Milne can make use of that nous, and if he can continue to soak up the wisdom of Bond, it will go a long way to determining whether the student can eventually emulate the careers of the masters.

- APNZ

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