Lockie Ferguson broke into the New Zealand team after leaving a trail of broken batsmen in domestic cricket. Clocking at roughly 155km/h he is probably the fastest bowler in the world right now, and his pace was certainly too much for a number of the domestic level players. In his breakthrough season for Auckland, the pitch at Eden Park was so flat that many commentators said that runs scored there should not be considered the reason for a batsman’s selection. Despite this, Ferguson averaged 21.7 runs per wicket. The other bowlers in the same matches collectively averaged over 36 runs per wicket.
His journey to get that speed was somewhat novel, working with the New Zealand Olympic athletics throwing coach, in order to build up the muscles that would help throw discs, shot put or javelin. That work has transferred to bowling a cricket ball well.
His start to international cricket, however, was not as successful as was hoped. After 7 ODI matches, he had only taken 8 wickets at an average of over 50 and conceding roughy 6.5 runs per over. But there were signs even then that there was more on offer.
Since then he’s averaged under 25, taking roughly two wickets per match. To put that in context, the only other quick bowlers who have averaged less than 25 and gone at less than 5.5 runs per over over that period are Jasprit Bumrah, Hasan Ali and Trent Boult.
Ferguson’s ability to take wickets in the middle overs, particularly bowling in tandem with the spinners is going to be important for New Zealand, as is his ability to keep it tight at the death. Top batsmen tend to not have too many difficulties against sheer pace, but all-rounders and tail-enders do tend to struggle, and removing them cheaply can be the difference between a comfortable victory and a loss. In Ferguson, New Zealand have a real weapon.
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