Cricket: Unlikely pace bowling trio doing the job

By Daniel Richardson

Mitchell McClenaghan. Photo / Getty Images.
Mitchell McClenaghan. Photo / Getty Images.

Ian Butler, Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan don't appear to share a lot in common but they're a pretty useful pace bowling unit when they pull on their international Twenty20 strips for New Zealand.

The trio were pivotal to New Zealand's 55-run win over England in Hamilton on Tuesday night, which has set up a decider in Wellington tomorrow.

Butler, the veteran who is enjoying another stint in the national side after reinventing himself as a bowling all-rounder, claimed 2-9 from four overs at Seddon Park. McClenaghan has been the find of the season for New Zealand with his aggressive attitude and wicket-taking ability. Boult is the lean left-arm paceman who has played only a couple of T20 internationals but looked decent - albeit expensive - in the game one loss to England last weekend when he picked up 2-40.

That battery of seamers also had great assistance in Hamilton from left-arm James Franklin, who took career-best figures of 4-15 as he cleaned up the tail.

Having a solid platform with the bat is important in any T20 encounter but New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said he was happy with the form of his seam bowlers on the eve of tomorrow's game at Westpac Stadium.

"I think the way Ian Butler bowled the other night was outstanding," McCullum said. "I thought 2-9 off four overs against any opposition, let alone an opposition that possess the quality these guys do, was fantastic. I also thought the other guys up front, McClenaghan and Boult, were superb with the ball and obviously Franklin chipped in towards the end. So we've got a lot of options and I think it's important to have lots of options in T20.

"We probably carried a batter heavy in the last game but that also gives your top order freedom to play a bit more aggressively knowing they've got some batters banked up behind them."

Butler is enjoying his third stint with the Black Caps after a turbulent start to his career saw him play eight tests and 15 one-dayers between 2002 and 2004 before injury struck. He rediscovered himself as a bowling all-rounder after moving to Otago from Northern Districts and was picked for New Zealand in the short forms of the game between 2009 and 2010.

McCullum said Butler still had butterflies in the stomach before the game in Hamilton.

"He was nervous last game. He'd been in the wilderness, so to speak, for a little but he performed incredibly well. He's certainly earned his recall for his domestic performances this year and I think he rode the confidence of how he's performed domestically this year, so it was great.

"He's an experienced player but he was still nervous but to be able to execute as well as what he did in the game the other day was great and I'm sure he's looking for another consistent performance in this game."

New Zealand might bring in spinner Roneel Hira for tomorrow night's game if the wicket looks slow but, considering the efforts of the seamers in Hamilton, McCullum may be loathe to break the unit up.

New Zealand: (from) Martin Guptill, Hamish Rutherford, Brendon McCullum (captain), Ross Taylor, Colin Munro, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Andrew Ellis, Ian Butler, Nathan McCullum, Roneel Hira, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan

England: (from) Michael Lumb, Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad (captain), James Tredwell, Steve Finn, Jade Dernbach, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Danny Briggs, Stuart Meaker, James Harris

- APNZ

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