Former captain Ricky Ponting believes that left-arm pacer Neil Wagner poses the biggest threat in the New Zealand bowling attack, ahead of the three-match Test series in Australia.
The 33-year-old pacer has been in extraordinary form, picking up 13 wickets in the recently concluded two-Test series against England and is ranked No.4 in the ICC Test rankings.
“If the bowling conditions get a little bit flat, with (Trent) Boult and (Tim) Southee in their line-up, if the ball doesn’t move around, I think they might find it difficult,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“Wagner is the one who’s having a good 12-18 months for them and we know what he’s like – he runs in quick and bangs the ball in and uses his bouncers really well. He’s someone the Aussies are going to have to look out for.”
Wagner’s chief weapon is his unsettling bouncer. Being a sensational athlete, the left-arm pacer can keep attacking the batsmen with his short-pitched bowling over long spells.
The fact that no bowler has bowled more 10-over or more spells than Wagner since he made his Test debut is a testament to his fitness.
“That’s his job: He just runs in, and bowls most balls between your hip and your armpit,” Ponting said. “If you’re going to score off him, you’ve got to score off him with a horizontal bat. How many times do you see a pull shot up in the air, or mis-hit to mid-on?
“They’ll use him as their enforcer … What they have is a well-rounded attack. Guys with the new ball who pitch it up and try to swing it and Wagner comes in behind them and bowls fast and short.”
The first of three Tests between Australia and New Zealand begins on 12 December in Perth.
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