- England in New Zealand 2012-13
New Zealand add Wagner to Test squad
Neil Wagner, New Zealand left-arm fast bowler, started Saturday by being called into the national squad, and finished it by hitting the winning runs in Queenstown against England XI. Wagner singled out Kevin Pietersen's lack of runs as a significant boost for the home side, going into the first Test in Dunedin, after the New Zealand XI managed to disrupt England's preparations.
Wagner claimed six wickets in the match, and produced some lively spells in the second innings to trouble England's batsmen. Pietersen made scores of 12 and 8 in his first match of the tour, while Nick Compton hit 21 and 1. For both those players, the four-day match in Queenstown was their only chance to spend time in the middle, ahead of the Test series.
"For me, personally, it was a good thing that the top order, apart from Belly (Ian Bell) who played exceptionally, hasn't had a long hit out there," Wagner said. "Guys like Kevin haven't batted that long in this tour match…so it's good that he's going into the Test without much batting under his belt. It does help us. We can hammer on his confidence and try to give him nothing."
He also believes there were useful points picked up about England's batsmen which those who are playing for the New Zealand XI, and are now transferring to the Test squad, can take with them. "There were a couple of things, obviously things we'll keep quiet about," he said. "It's nice to have a little bit of a look. In a game like this you can have a look at things real close and search for little spots of weakness."
New Zealand may yet decide to field an all-pace attack in the first Test, which would mean Wagner, who has three caps, could line up alongside Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell. However, if they opt to give a debut to left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, then Wagner could find himself carrying the drinks.
Wagner, for obvious reasons, was clear what he thought should be done. "I can't see why we wouldn't play four seamers - that's just by personal opinion - but any time I get a chance, I'll be happy to try and grab it and make the most of it." He has only managed five wickets in the early stages of his Test career, but has had a productive Plunket Shield season with 30 wickets at 25.43.
"I had a couple of chances before, and I would have liked to have done better," he said. "But I've worked a lot on certain parts of my game which I needed to fine tune and sometimes, unfortunately, with those sorts of things, you have to play more to get those things working as it doesn't always come out in the nets. Playing a bit of first-class cricket I felt like something started clicking, and I had a lot of confidence coming into the game. I'm pretty stoked about it.
"It was a very special day. It's something I've been working hard for. You just have to keep fighting every day to find yourself a spot. That's what I've been trying to do so I'm very pleased with that, and it was nice to get the news this morning. Then to finish the game off like we did and get a win was like the cherry on the top."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo