Otago bowler Neil Wagner will be an unknown quantity
for the West Indies, should the left-armer make his
international debut in the first test beginning in Antigua next
week. Cricket writer Adrian Seconi looks at four areas of
Neil Wagner has been the leading wicket-taker in the
Plunket Shield for the past two seasons with 97 wickets at
an average of 22.03.
The left-armer created history when he took five wickets in
one over during a Plunket Shield game in Queenstown last
One of the YouTube clips has had more than 200,000 views, so
the cat is out of the bag. But while it was a great day for
the 26-year-old, he has built an impressive record over a
much longer period.
He has been the leading wicket-taker in the Plunket Shield
for the past two seasons, with 97 wickets at an average of
22.03. In 53 first-class games he has taken 10 five-wicket
bags and 10 wickets in a match once, and also boasts a
healthy strike rate of 43.34.
Photos by Peter McIntosh.
He is no Daniel Vettori but Wagner varies his pace. He is
capable of bowling quickly and is not afraid to bend his back
and pitch it short. But his stock delivery is brisk, rather
than lightning, and he relies on swing, more than seam, to
That style should suit the abrasive surface the Blacks Caps
are likely to find in Antigua. Once the ball gets roughed up
it might start reversing, and that is when Wagner is at his
The South African-born player has been waiting for a chance
to strut his stuff on an international stage since making the
decision to transfer to Otago and align with the Black Caps
in the summer of 2008-09.
Originally, he understood he would have to stand down for
three years. But he had to wait an extra year before he was
eligible to play for his adopted country and then that
eligibility was called into question, when the ICC realised
he had left the country to attend a wedding and play in the
Champions League for Otago.
West Indies great Michael Holding famously kicked the stumps
down at Carisbrook in 1980 when a decision went against the
fast bowler. So far, Wagner's footwork has been limited to
wild swings at the turf, but he does struggle to keep his
emotions in check on the field.
He gesticulates theatrically.
He is constantly falling over in his follow-through. He
leaves the field with what looks like a serious injury only
to return a few minutes later. He can make the banal
But he can also be relied on to get through his workload
despite the all the drama and, when his nostrils are flaring,
there is no better bowler in the country.