Pace pair under pressure from Wagner

New Zealand

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has warned fast bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee that there are bowlers waiting in the wings to take their places, with Neil Wagner knocking on the door particularly loudly.

Boult and Southee had below par series against Australia, both averaging more than 40 in the five home and away Tests over the past three months. Wagner was the only Kiwi paceman to average under 40.

Hesson was troubled by the fact that the veteran pairing failed to find swing in perfect home conditions, while the Aussies had no such issues. Hesson praised Wagner for finding some swing on 'benign' surfaces.

Hesson said: "I think there will be [tough selections]. Tim and Trent for two years have been exceptional for us but we have different guys in the squad who do different things.

"We have alluded to Neil. He brings a different option. Dougie Bracewell is a bit different, as is Matt Henry, so within those five we have got, we should be able to get a pretty good attack in all conditions around the world.

"The beauty of Neil is that he makes things happen. Even on benign surfaces, where we play the majority of our cricket, he does generate wicket-taking opportunities.

"I think he got 6 for 70 in the first innings (in Christchurch) once he decided to bowl 25 overs of bumpers and there are not many people around the world who can do that. I have been fortunate enough to work with Neil for a long time, so I know he's a gutsy performer.

"But I thought the skill he showed, that's a really a difficult thing to do, to get the ball between chest and head consistently and I thought his ability to keep them in that area and keep challenging was world-class and certainly kept us in the match."

Brendon McCullum, now retired but skipper in the recent Test series, also said Southee in particular would need to up his game in the face of Wagner and Henry doing well.

McCullum said: "It's probably not my question to answer any more. He is a strong leader in the group but Tim's got some challenges in the next little while.

"There's other guys coming through who are performing very well, Matt Henry in particular, and it's going to push Tim to make sure he's operating at his best which we saw for a good 12 to 18 months.

"He's got some challenges but I still believe he's a strong leader in the group and he's just got to smooth out some of his rough edges."