Cricket: NZ on verge of embarrassing loss

By David Leggat

Tim Southee and Trent Boult provide compelling evidence NZ's bowling future is in good hands.

Trent Boult's left-armers caused problems for Sri Lanka's classy batting line-up. Photo / AP
Trent Boult's left-armers caused problems for Sri Lanka's classy batting line-up. Photo / AP

The immediate future of New Zealand new ball bowling has been on show, and impressively so, in Galle.

With only 221 to work with, courtesy of a disappointing New Zealand first innings batting display, Northern Districts pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult rolled their sleeves up, found swing to work with and made a mess of the first half of Sri Lanka's reply.

At 50 for five, the hosts were reeling but got out of a serious jam through the efforts of captain and vice-captain, Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Matthews.

Their 156-run sixth wicket stand ensured the game would sit on an even keel after two days, if well advanced.

It now seems, for all the fine words about veteran new ball man Chris Martin's importance to the national test side, that the die may be cast.

Martin, 38 next month and with 230 wickets from 70 tests, sits in the stands in Galle and watches; so too does Neil Wagner, a lively left armer with a strong record for Otago.

At 26, recently having become eligible for New Zealand and coming into his prime years, he's craving another chance. However the young(ish) Turks are out in the middle.

Southee, in his 20th test, and left armer Boult are 23; while Doug Bracewell, less impressive in the first innings than the other two, but undoubtedly a man for the coming years, is 22.

Southee led the way, the humidity of Galle helping his sharp outswing. He had pace and hostility. His inswinger to deceive Thilan Samaraweera and have him lbw was a beauty and just the ticket as a counterpoint to the consistent away swing from the righthanders.

He's got form for this. Against Australia at Brisbane in 2008, another venue which can look kindly on swing men, he had Australia 23 for three in the first hour of the test - Hayden, Katich and Ponting, thanks very much - before normal transmission resumed. Not bad for a 19-year-old neophyte.

Boult did his bit in Galle, removing the world's No 1-ranked batsman Kumar Sangakkara with a fine ball and showing the value of a left armer able to get sharp movement away from the lefthanders.

Southee, going into Sri Lanka's second innings of the current test, had taken 15 wickets in his last two-and-a-half tests, including seven for 64 against India at Bangalore, having been left out of two of New Zealand's previous three tests.

He's taken 57 at 37.8 overall. The average needs to drop but after an early career of some bright days interspersed by a few less sunny ones, he needs to produce consistent quality.

Boult, 17 wickets in five-and-a-half tests, at 36.5, impressed knowledgable Australian eyes at Hobart.

He has bounced back from a trying start, in Australia in early 2009.

- NZ Herald

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