Pink ball needs more research for sub-continent: Trent Boult on Day-Night Tests and relationship with Southee
In a chat with Firstpost, Trent Boult talks about the possibility of pink ball cricket in India, New Zealand cricket’s newand his relationship with Tim Southee.
They say T20 is a batsman's game. While there have been 1376 sixes and 530 fours clobbered so far in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), there is one bowling attack that has impressed in the tournament. The Sunrisers Hyderabad's seamers Musatfizur Rahman, Ashish Nehra and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have formed such a potent bowling force, that a bowler of the calibre of Trent Boult hasn't played a single IPL game this season.
The New Zealand pacer - who was the joint-highest wicket-taker in 2015 World Cup - hasn't had much chance to play white-ball cricket of late. The left-arm Kiwi pacer has been waiting in the wings for a long time now, however, with Nehra ruled out of the tournament, there is a chance that he may get a look-in as the tournament enters a crucial stage.
While Boult waits for his opportunity, he talks to Firstpost, about the possibility of pink ball cricket in India, New Zealand cricket’s new direction after the retirement of Brendon McCullum and his relationship with new-ball partner Tim Southee.
Talking about the IPL, Sunrisers Hyderabad started off slowly, but have gained momentum and are now looking good for the knockouts.
Boult: Things are really shaping up well. We made a slow start as we were hit by a couple injuries to major players. But injuries are just part of the game and one of those things that you deal with. It allows for opportunities to different players but it was nice to have both Ashish Nehra and Yuvraj Singh back early. The team has been travelling very well and now we have done well in the home games as well. I expect this form to continue.
How important is home advantage in franchise cricket given how this shortest format plays out?
Trent Boult: It does matter to some extent. When you are travelling across the country and playing the next night, it gets a bit tougher because franchise leagues are very constricted in terms of scheduling. When you play at home, there is some extra time available, so you make the most of it in conditions that you come to know well. So, it becomes a big part of the strategies.
Talking about franchise cricket, it is a rising phenomenon across the world. How vital is it for an international cricketer to play in such different tournaments?
Boult: I think it is an exciting time for world cricket in terms of expanding your knowledge of the game. This is where these franchise tournaments come in and it becomes vital to get involved in them, because you want to play against different cricketers. You want to pitch your skills against the best batsmen in the world and obviously score against the best bowlers. There are so many different leagues at the moment and it allows us to do that. As it is, this format is quite exciting to be involved with. From a personal point of view, IPL is a tremendous tournament, and I have thoroughly enjoyed coming here and knowing different cricketers.
You have not been able to play in the IPL so far, perhaps down to the overseas players’ combination and during the 2016 World T20 as well owing to the conditions. How easy or difficult is it to keep your focus in such situations?
Boult: It is just one of those things. You try to keep fresh and stay focused while waiting for the opportunity to come around. In the World T20 we had slower tracks as compared to the IPL, so it was horses for courses policy there. I could still feature in the IPL as yet, but sharing the dressing room with some fantastic cricketers has been an amazing experience in itself.
Talk us through that recent World T20 campaign. Is it a marker for New Zealand cricket’s future?
Boult: We did very well and strung together a few wins in the league matches. I think our performances against India and Australia were both very encouraging, and it helped us gain confidence from the word go. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the same in the semi-final against a quality English side. But we have found some quality players from this tournament, in particular spinners Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner, and they have an exciting future ahead of them.
They played on a couple good turners. Does that sort of an experience help in preparing for an important Test tour of India ahead?
Trent Boult: It definitely helps, but I personally feel the opportunity in IPL helps more than the World T20. Both ways, playing here helps understand the conditions very well and that is another increasing positive of franchise cricket. It will be an interesting, and tricky, Test series in India. We have a couple other tours in the sub-continent as well. So we have to see how things shape up. Mitchell McClenaghan is doing well for the Mumbai Indians too, so looks like we have a nice competitive group of bowlers forming well.
There is a lot of speculation about a Day-Night Test on that upcoming tour. How do you feel about featuring in one here after the inaugural one in Adelaide?
Boult: We haven’t received any confirmation as yet, but surely it will be an exciting step for Test cricket here in the sub-continent. The experience we had in Australia was an amazing occasion. It was a Test match with 50000 people almost every day. And the ball swung around nicely throughout, which was exciting for us bowlers for a change. But the pink ball wears down very quickly. We had a lot of grass in that first Test and it got chewed up quickly. In the sub-continent, it will wear down even more given the pitches we have seen in the World T20 or the IPL, or in the past, where South Africa played here last year. So, personally I feel a lot more research is needed on the pink ball for the sub-continental conditions.
Is it tougher to control the pink ball as compared to the red or white ones?
Boult: It is a tough question. The pink one definitely did swing quite a lot compared to the other two. You need some time to get used to it, both for batsmen and bowlers. It stays shinier than the traditional balls and swings for a longer period of time. I liked it, but I think I prefer bowling with the red ball.
Tell us about your partnership with Tim Southee. You work well with each other, so what is the working ingredient of your pairing?
Boult: We are best friends outside of international cricket. I think that has been the biggest help. After that we have been bowling together for a few years now. The partnership that we have has been successful because I swing the ball one way and he swings it the other way. And we have been able to put pressure on batsmen from both ends. Put together, our friendship and bowling rhythm at the moment makes things a lot easier. And it has gone nicely with the likes of Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan coming in.
How tough is such a pairing to replicate in other formats, especially in franchise/T20 cricket?
Boult: I think it is a massive part of it, despite the short term of such tournaments. Even in franchise cricket like IPL, every team is trying to get such a partnership going and it doesn’t matter whether you are a spin or pace bowler, teams that are usually able to find such a combination are the ones who do the best, irrespective of format.
Last but not the least, the team has had to move on from Brendon McCullum’s retirement quickly. How is the dressing room coping with that?
Boult: There is no doubt he has been a massive part of New Zealand cricket over the last few seasons in particular. The impact he has had on current team especially has been amazing. We built up a good record at home as well as played some good cricket overseas. But the game goes on and he has left the team in great hands. Kane Williamson did very well leading in the World T20. He has obviously picked up a few things from Brendon. So yeah, life goes on but the players will always remember how important he was for us in the team and play in the same spirit.
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