“Kyle Jamieson is a tall and terrifying fast bowler and might be the fear factor for the batsmen around the world. He might be an asset for Test cricket”

 

The big man goes back towards the top of his bowling run – well, it is a pretty long run-up! The big man is sweating and he uses it to preserve the shine of the red cherry. He watches the batsman take his guard and ready to feel the heat of his bowling prowess. The big man wants to devastate with an extra-yard of pace and bounce. He turns, begins to excel, the golden chain moving around his neck, hair flying, arms swing and the body bends forward – the scenario is like a predator moving in for the kill. The umpire feels the rage of the predator as soon as he crosses him – the batsman is castled.

The crowd thinks it’s marvelous!

The people in the commentary box think it’s a ripper!

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The above description is about the big boys of Test cricket, whose deeds with the red cherry still bears enough than the well-timed shot from Virat Kohli or Kane Williamson. If you love the thrilling side of Test cricket, then surely, you are madly in love with the fast men – you would prefer to watch Pat Cummins at his best than Kohli or Kane.

Fast bowling is all about a rush of adrenaline and the courageous side of the game and countering them is bolder than ever!

Ask Kyle Jamieson about the joy of fast bowling, outweighing and bouncing the batsmen – he would certainly agree, it is not just fun – it’s more than that.

In the year (1994) Jamieson was born, world cricket still had the balance between the ball and the bat, and there was no circus show around. Test cricket was great, one-day cricket was thrilling and outstanding fast bowlers hunted for the best batsmen of the world. It was the ear of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, and Allan Donald. For such dynamic customers, New Zealand’s answer was Danny Morrison alongside the bits and pieces allrounders.

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But, 27 years later, Jamieson is witnessing an era, where New Zealand boast of one of the best pace-bowling attacks in the world, while countries like Pakistan, West Indies, and South Africa have lost their Midas touch in the pace-bowling section.

Jamieson, born in Auckland, had moved to Canterbury to develop his cricketing skills.

When he eventually made the Canterbury side, he worked with current New Zealand coach Gary Stead, who, back then, was overseeing that team.

To begin, Jamieson was a batsman. But then, when he made the step up to Under-19 cricket, Dayle Hadlee – the former New Zealand pacer, brother of Richard Hadlee, and ex-New Zealand Under-19 coach – spotted something in him that pushed him to take up bowling.

Now Malan, who has worked with Jamieson at the New Zealand A level, and whom the bowler followed from Canterbury back to Auckland in 2019-20, has taken over as his primary bowling guide.

Stead remembers Jamieson from his pre-bowling days and is amazed at the changes he has made.

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“I think it’s an amazing story, really. Kyle was a 17-18-year-old when he came down to Lincoln University, and he actually was a batsman, didn’t really bowl at all,” Stead recalled after the Wellington Test. “So for me to see that development in six or seven years is a pretty amazing story in itself.”

“I remember watching him, first time I ever saw Kyle bowl was in Burnside Park in an Under-19 tournament, and I looked at Dayle Hadlee and I told him, ‘this boy’s got a little bit about him’, and it was pretty exciting to watch. [It is] a testament to the work Kyle’s put in, the way he’s developed. But also I think the coaches around him and the systems we’ve had in New Zealand cricket, which have helped him get to this point, is really pleasing.”

Back on December 17, 2019 – Jamieson was called into the New Zealand Test squad as a replacement for the injured Lockie Ferguson for the series against Australia.

By then, he had just fetched five wickets in three first-class matches in that season with an overall record of 72 at 27.93 and his height, with the potential to extract bounce from Australian wickets, has helped earn his call-up.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for Kyle who has impressed in the Plunket Shield domestic four-day competition,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said.

“We’ve also been really encouraged by his progress in the NZC winter camps and his performances for New Zealand A.”

Jamieson has been a regular for New Zealand A over the past few seasons and was even part of the squad that traveled to the UAE in 2018. In all, he has represented New Zealand A 13 times across formats, picking up 15 wickets. His best figures of 4 for 49 came in the game against India A in Christchurch last January.

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Jamieson dismissed opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, and then defended seven off the last over to secure the one-day series 2-1 for the hosts. He nipped out Sandeep Warrier and Ishan Porel off back-to-back balls to finish off India’s chase.

And, he can bat as well – as his List A average (31.50) and strike rate (112.50) suggest. He has made three first-class fifties to go with one in List A cricket. His most memorable knock came against the visiting English attack in 2018, when he cracked a 111-ball 101 to give the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and Mark Wood a runaround in a warm-up at Seddon Park.

Earlier, in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup in the UAE, Jamieson had emerged as New Zealand’s second-highest wicket-taker, with seven strikes in four matches at an economy rate of 4.51.

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Jamieson’s father said that his height outweighed his batting because the lad from Auckland grew up with the dream of becoming a batsman.

“Standing at over two meters tall he obviously gets a good bounce and brings something different to our other pace bowlers,” said the New Zealand coach.

Jamieson received the call from selector Gavin Larsen as he was gearing up for a nets session as part of his preparation for Auckland’s game against Canterbury in the shorter-formats of the game.

“It was a pretty special moment,” he said, adding, “it was pretty hard to concentrate [on his training]” after the call, and that the prospect of making a debut in Australia’s backyard is at once daunting and exciting. “

“I think it’s a great, challenging stuff, but I think most kids growing up would say that a Boxing Day test against the Aussies would be pretty special.”

He admitted to “never ever [having] set foot [in Victoria] outside the Melbourne airport,” and that he has not received any indication of playing at the MCG or the SCG for the third Test.

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“Whether I play or not, basically just to be a sponge and soak up the atmosphere and just the whole trip itself and just learning off some of those world-class guys in that squad.”

Jamieson described his towering figure as a gift from his parents and it is an advantage that he was hoping to make the most of.

“It’s just about doing your role for the team and I guess whatever that looks like for me, I’m happy to do that,” he said.

“So whether that’s bowling full, or it’s bowling wide or it’s whatever it is.”

Jamieson did not play in Australia.

He watched the Kiwis getting bashed by the red-hot Australian unit and returned home with the aim to use his height and guile against the touring Indian side.

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Whether you agree or not, at six feet and eight inches, Jamieson is the tallest cricketer in New Zealand – even slightly taller than the batting coach, Peter Fulton and he has been using his towering frame to bounce out batsmen in domestic cricket.

Now it was time to steamroll the batsmen in Test cricket.

The Indians were expecting a sterner test from the likes of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, and Neil Wagner, while they had no idea about the Big Bird of this generation.

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At Basin Reserve, on Day 1, Ajinkya Rahane, batting on 10, received a delivery from Jamieson, which climbed vertically from a length and lifted him off his feet! Rahane did his best to get on top of the bounce, play as much late as possible but while batting on 24, Jamieson produced a sucker-punch-delivery, that sprung towards his neck and made him unsure about his astute footwork, which was weathering the storm with green underneath, the gray sky above and tree-smashing wind.

That delivery left Rahane hanging in the air, eyes off the ball and hands rising to save the face!

Then there was Cheteshwar Pujara who was well beaten by the length at first hand and then undone by the length, which was fuller enough. On both the occasions, Pujara was technically good, but the manner of the delivery was such, he had no answer. It was his first wicket and the second one was Virat Kohli, who poked against a delivery which was bowled at the fifth or sixth stump, and before that Kohli was given that bone-chilling feeling with a delivery that jumped and he had to defend by being airborne.

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It was a Joel Garner moment, which left many of the best customers in the late 70s and early 80s at bay.

The height Garner and lively pace made him one of the most lethal fast bowlers in the history of Test cricket and his legacy was carried on by Ambrose and Walsh; but then came a period of lull, where fast bowlers of such height and caliber were missing.

The emergence of Jamieson is encouraging.

He not only uses his height to advantage but exploits the bowling crease intelligently to create stiffer angles, which make things tough for the batsmen – even when a batsman is well-positioned to counter the threat, the angle and bounce courtesy of height – leaves him nowhere to defend or play shots.

“I guess it just comes from a steeper angle,” Jamieson said at the end of the day’s play of the first Test against India in Basin Reserve.

“I guess not as quick as what some of the other guys are around the world, but I think still my short ball is a weapon, from the height that I can bowl it.”

“Yeah, look, I guess with my height, I can afford to go a fraction fuller, especially out here as well, with the extra bounce,” he said. “I was trying to, I guess; make guys commit to play off the front foot. I think in my second spell, the first half of it, there was a lot of balls left on length, so it was just how do you commit them on the front foot, especially if it does swing or seam, then you’re a chance of bringing the edge in.”

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“I think as a tall guy, naturally your length is further back, but over time you get used to trying to bring it a little bit fuller.”

4 wickets in the first innings followed by 5-for in the second Test at Hagley Oval – India were terrorized.

During the Test series against India, Jamieson said, “I’m still a long way off where I want to be as a bowler and as a cricketer. The stuff that I started to work on with Auckland, with Heinrich [Malan, his coach at Auckland and New Zealand A], I think in the next year or so I’m going to make massive strides.”

After almost one year, the impact Jamieson is evident and the touring Pakistani unit had a bitter taste of stiff bounce and angle.

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The Pakistani left-handers were in a world of confusion when Jamieson had the ball jump from the back of the length and then sucked their total fighting intent with those fullish ones. Shan Masood, Haris Sohail, and Fawad Alam would love to forget the kind of misery they experienced against Jamieson.

Mohammad Rizwan had been the most consistent batter for Pakistan in this series, but in the second innings of Pakistan in the second Test today, he shifted his weight to a cover-drive mode, keeping the gap between the bat and pad marginal – well, Jamieson pitched one outside off, made it cut back and disturbed the woodwork.

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Of the 11 wickets he claimed at the Hagley Oval against Pakistan, five were of right-handers and six of lefties. Five wickets fell to length balls, two to shorter deliveries, a further two to bouncers, while the full ball claimed another couple.

Before Pakistan, the West Indies were gunned down by the Aucklander.

36 wickets from 6 Test matches with an average of 13.27 and at the strike rate of 33.3 – staggering for a young fast bowler and the way he uses his height and length, it should reap a rich harvest on flat decks as well.

Test cricket would be benefited.

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