Kyle Jamieson admits his jump height was not the best, especially for a guy who is 2.03 meters tall. It might be a weakness for Jamieson but that trait is a blessing for New Zealand cricket. Jamieson could have easily pursued playing basketball, but the lack of leap and the hectic scheduling forced him to pursue cricket.
On Friday, Jamieson proved he had selected the right sport as he picked up three crucial Indian wickets on Test debut. Two days before the match, he had troubled all the New Zealand batsmen in the nets with his steep bounce and there was little doubt that he would be the replacement for Neil Wagner.
The impressive outing in the practice session prompted Kane Williamson to let his debutant bowl down breeze at the Basin Reserve, a luxury for a first gamer. "Pretty lucky to get the wind not sure how often I will get that but no complaints for me," he said after the day's play.
Bowling downwind and with his dad cheering him from the stands, Jamieson bowled like a seasonal campaigner. It was his first Test, but over the past month, he had gained confidence by troubling the Indian batting during the ODI series. Right from the first ball, Jamieson looked relaxed, content and executed like a veteran. His first over was a maiden. In six balls, he had already set a benchmark and stuck to it for the rest of the day.
Tall bowlers have a trait of pounding the ball on a good length and a majority of them struggle to pitch the ball that yard fuller. Jamieson had no such trouble as he lured Cheteshwar Pujara forward to a ball that bounced and kissed the shoulder of the bat. It was an ideal delivery because it looked so natural.
With Cheteshwar Pujara as his first Test victim, Jamieson now set his eyes on the Indian skipper. The change of batsmen meant an alteration to the plan. Against Kohli, it was a structured pattern. Bouncer followed by the full ball. Kohli had negotiated the blueprint on the first two instances, but on the third occasion, he drove harder, his hands outside his eye-line, ball hitting higher on the bat and Ross Taylor pouching the ball at first slip.
Asked about the plan to dismiss Kohli, Jamieson stated: "we know how strong he is off the wickets, so we wanted to keep it around the 6th stump line".
With each ball, Jamieson was getting better. In space of an hour, he had become a hero at the Basin Reserve. After each over, he received generous applause from the Wellington crowd. Jamieson was enjoying Test cricket.
As a teenager, Jamieson was an all-rounder and even batted as an opener or No 3 at Auckland Grammar high School. But the competition was too stiff and he found it difficult to break through, so he decided to head south to Christchurch.
Fortunately for Jamieson, he would a great ally at Canterbury. Current New Zealand coach Garry Stead was in charge of Canterbury at the time and was impressed by Jamieson's action. Stead described it as "uncomplicated" and was impressed with his professional attitude and desire to learn.
Injuries to Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson during the ODI series led to Stead finally giving Jamieson a turn at the international level. The way Jamieson bowled on his ODI debut at Eden Park was a sign that that the towering lad from Auckland was destined to play Test cricket.
Back to the Basin Reserve and Jamieson's second spell was equally as lethal as his opening burst. In his 14 overs, he was never cut, he offered no room to the batsmen and continued to bring them forward.
Mayank Agarwal had plenty of praise for Jamieson, stating it wasn't only his height but his length that made him tough to negotiate. Jamieson, on the other hand, was just ecstatic that he had claimed the wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli on Test debut. But perhaps above all, his greatest ally was the Basin Reserve surface.
"It was one of the bounciest pitches I've played on," he told Radio Sport New Zealand. The pitch is bound to assist Jamieson again tomorrow and on today's indication, he is bound to trouble the Indian batsmen once again.
Coincidently, the last bowler to take three wickets on Test debut at Wellington was Ravi Shastri. The Indian coach will now have to conjure up a plan to ensure his batsmen can overcome the steep bounce of Jamieson.
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