Wagner will put friendships aside on the field

Black Caps

New Zealand fast bowler Neil Wagner will be looking to put friendships aside when they take on England in a two-match Test series starting in Auckland on Thursday.

Left-arm paceman Wagner, who has taken in 34 Tests, spent time with Essex in the County Championship last year, picking up 31 wickets in a title-winning season.

Wagner was a teammate Alastair Cook at the English county and revealed that the pair have shared good banter ahead of the series.

The South African-born Wagner said: “He’s a great lad, loved spending time with him in the Essex changing room. He’s a top man and I’m looking forward to going back.

“There has been some funny banter between myself and him even before this series got close so I look forward to playing against him.

“It will be quite an interesting battle then afterwards we can sit down, have a laugh and talk about it.

“That’s the nice part about cricket. Going around the world and playing with these guys and then against them. You make some good friends and then you have to put that aside, have a good battle and have a beer afterwards again.”

Wagner has become the Black Caps’ enforcer, bowling plenty of short balls to opposition batsmen following the opening the spells of Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

England’s batsman struggled with short-pitched bowling during the Ashes series but Wagner was not giving anything away when asked if he will employ hostile tactics for the visitors.

The 32-year-old said: “It’s summing up conditions, if the wicket allows it and if the ball doesn’t swing you’ve got to try and find a way of getting modes of dismissal or create something.

“We’ll look at some scouting footage in the next few days and plan accordingly.”