January 12, 2017

'Tim and I skin the cat a different way'

Trent Boult speaks about his partnership with Tim Southee, his favourite Test wins and the challenge of playing in all three formats
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WATCH - Boult takes spectacular catch

Before Trent Boult went to bat in the nets the day before the first New Zealand-Bangladesh Test in Wellington, he sat down with ESPNcricinfo, all padded up, his helmet sitting next to him, to have a chat about forming one of the best bowling pairs in the world with Tim Southee, staying fit while trying to play every format, and more.

You've been bowling with Tim Southee for a number of years. Can you describe what it is like to be one half of one of the best bowling pairs in the world?
Tim and I have grown up together from an early age. We have been mates and played in the same team since the age of 14-15. It is well into a decade of bowling together, I guess. We are good friends and we enjoy doing what we do out on the bowling crease. I think our skills complement each other, in regards to him obviously bowling outswing and myself bowling inswing. I feel we can create pressure to both left- and right-hand batsmen. I think we have probably gone on well but we have been light of late with how we bowled together. But we will be trying to put in couple of strong performances here in the Test series.

I saw you yesterday going together to bat in the nets. Do you hang out off the field as well?
New Zealand is so small that you are not far away from anyone at the best of times. He is from the same province, Northern Districts, as me. We are literally down the road from each other.

You have a Test match coming up. When do the two of you start planning for opposition batsmen?
When it comes to strategy, it is more of a bowling-group thing. It is definitely not just me and Tim. I suppose with how much cricket there is lately, the planning is going on constantly, really. There's definitely not one plan for each batsman. It is nice to get in couple of days before a Test, have a good workout, bowl, get the body right, get the mind right and get into it on match day.

You need to listen to your body and be smart with when to peak and when to take the downtime. It makes it a hell of a lot easier when you love it so much

You are playing in the same period as great bowling pairs like Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, and Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Is there a competition with those guys?
Firstly, it is nice to be recognised in the same calibre as those guys. Me and Tim are just enjoying it and putting our best performances in. And we are enjoying it with our mates. We are definitely not competing with any other partnership around the world. We are just going out there, doing our thing. We love doing it and hopefully more good times will come.

What stands out in your bowling partnership?
When it comes to me and Tim, I wouldn't say we are that quick. We are definitely not in the same category as Steyn and Starc, bowling at 150kph. We skin the cat a different way. We look to bowl up and swing the ball. Obviously we use any grass that's on the wicket, especially in New Zealand conditions.

There's definitely no one method that works. I think that's the beauty of cricket. Everyone brings something different to the table. It proves that different actions and styles of bowling are effective all around the world.

Is it more about how many games you win for New Zealand?
In a way. It doesn't really matter how you do it but it is how you get it done. Guys look to bowl fast and put the fear in batsmen, blow them out. Some people bowl short and set smart fields and others, like myself and Tim, look to pitch the ball up and swing. The challenge is, when it is not swinging what plans do you have up your sleeve? That's one thing that is still a learning in progress.

Has your international career panned out as you've wanted?
I started playing cricket when I was probably 11 or 12. I managed to play through the school and club teams. It is funny how it evolves and you get opportunities to represent your town, city and province. I have literally followed the ladder and loved every part of it. I am hoping for many more good times ahead and hopefully that is alongside all my close mates Tim, Kane [Williamson] and Corey Anderson.

With Southee (left) and Grant Elliott: "I hope when I am 60-70 years old and well and truly retired, I am still in touch with these guys that I have played with and still getting along with them" © Getty Images

Do you have a number in mind when you think about potential achievements?
Just as many as possible, you know. I have never really sat down and said I want 400 Test wickets. I just want to make the most of every game that comes on.

How challenging is it to stay fit in international cricket?
I think it is becoming ever more challenging, really. For a player to play all three formats, the constant time on your legs and in the nets training and playing each format, is tough. You need to listen to your body and be smart with when to peak and when to take the downtime. It makes it a hell of a lot easier when you love it so much.

Does it help that you and Tim have been playing together for a long time?
It is a combination of a lot of things. As long as the enjoyment is there, in my opinion, it becomes a lot easier. I love what I do with Tim and there are good mates in the team. A good collection of guys who have played age-group cricket together, and literally followed on. So we all love doing it together.

How do you see yourself in ODIs and T20s?
I want to play as many games as I can. I have always said that Test cricket is the real pinnacle of cricket. It is the one that means the most to me. It is the one that I want to strive and excel in. It is possibly the sole focus, but it is exciting with all these different competitions in different formats.

I would definitely like to see Test cricket untouched and remain how it is

What has been your favourite Test win?
I have been thinking about it before. There's been a few. My first game was a Test win for New Zealand. I probably didn't understand how special and significant they were until they came along. Any Test win that we have had overseas, especially in conditions that are foreign to us, are ones that stand out. Beating the West Indies in West Indies was a good one. And the Sharjah Test we played against Pakistan was a good one as well. Hopefully there's lot more to come. They definitely don't come around too often.

When you see a pitch as green as the one in Wellington, do you feel bad for the batsmen?
Amazing how you can't see it two days before the game! It plays really well. It is the nature of the game when you are in New Zealand. There should be a bit of movement in the first couple of hours. It definitely pans out to be a good batting surface. The ball bounces nicely, it carries. There's been some great games here and obviously some big runs scored. So yep, the batsmen will get used to it.

There was a plan to host a day-night Test during this series but it didn't happen in the end. Do you see a pink-ball future?
I was a bit reserved about it. I didn't like the fact that we were touching Test cricket and changing it in a way. The one experience I have had with it was an amazing occasion - 50,000-plus crowd turned up at the Adelaide Oval each day. Full crowds, lots of noise. It was very exciting. I am not too sure where it goes from here. A lot of work needs to be done to the ball. But I would definitely like to see Test cricket untouched and remain how it is.

What is the most enjoyable thing in cricket for you?
I think the mateship and the relationships you grow over your career. Not just with your team-mates but also the opposition. The ability to play all over the world against different type of people. The friendship you grow out of the game is exciting. I hope when I am 60-70 years old and well and truly retired, I am still in touch with these guys that I have played with and still getting along with them. Representing your country is a huge honour for me but the mateship you grow out of it is very cool as well.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A.J on January 19, 2017, 6:22 GMT

    Southee is just far too expensive and just doesn't take enough wickets. Boult can be world class at full pace. He was dynamite 2 years ago. I honestly don't know why Southee is in the team. As others seem to point out, his average in the last 20 odd tests is like 45+ or something close to those numbers. Watching on TV it seems like he has ZERO ball control.

  • Captain on January 18, 2017, 8:07 GMT

    wow! what an interview and what a cool customer he is. Read worthy. love from Bangladesh

  •   Venkatesh Venkatesh on January 14, 2017, 14:22 GMT

    Par excellence fast bowlers from NZ always remembered for master class bowling in tandem during 2015 world cup that took NZ to finals under most dynamic captain Brendon McCullum, how Boult rattled the Australian batting line up in first match still fresh in memory and of Southee against England both of them bat a bit that added advantage for any captain , it is extremely difficult for any batsman to face these two when they at their best , in that way NZ is most fortunate that this pair doing very good work in their specialisation

  • David on January 14, 2017, 8:49 GMT

    Three years ago they were a world class pair. Two things have happened since then - Bond left the NZ coaching setup, and both Southee and Boult have had to come back from pretty serious injuries. Both these things may be related.

    I agree with pretty much all that has been said here. Currently I don't think they are getting the job done, but Boult in particular is showing signs of returning to top form. More than that though is that NZ has no other real options. Like it or not, I think they are the best we have. At least we know they can be world beaters, even if they are down on form at the moment. Anyone else would be a stab in the dark.

  • Connor Harris on January 14, 2017, 6:18 GMT

    Kiwicricketnut, Boult is getting back up pace wise as after his first spell he was regularly hitting 137-138 , and some balls were over 140kph.

  • hariharan on January 14, 2017, 2:12 GMT

    I was expecting to see comments about people appreciating Boult's craft and pleasant character but I see a lot of dissing of both him and Southee! Surprised. I think we should respect Tim and Trent - swing, control and fitness and I'd think decent bags of wickets too in a time when bat's got more sway over ball. The average fan amongst us does realize its a tough job being a quick in the modern game with the workload - just for good measure I think Trent and Tim and the Kiwi boys in general are terrific!

  • jared on January 13, 2017, 19:25 GMT

    @ SAMEOLD bond did have them fuzzing no doubt but does this mean they have forgotten all they were taught by him already those glory days must be nearly 3 years ago we can't keep picking them because they were great 3 years ago somethings gone wrong they should of got better not worse they are both nI there bowling prime, boult was a 140-145km swing man hes nowhere near that now and has lost his effectiveness the other day he gad a 100km wind art his back bowling 128kms no international batter is going to worry about that much, there really is no substitute for pace and when boult had it he was lethal, our attack looks pedestrian compared to others around the world these days and I agree henry can't be seldcted on form either hes bee very dissapointing in tests which is a shame because other than a good yorker he has everything you want in a seamer, I reckon our selectors have a genuine problem here but will bury their heads in the sand yet again and call them our premiere bowlers

  • Steve on January 13, 2017, 14:58 GMT

    "Tim and I skin the cat a different way". OK, but first catch the cat. Looks like BD escaped from your grasp.

  • Connor Harris on January 13, 2017, 9:19 GMT

    I think that Southee needs to be replaced as he bowls far too short and has lost his pace and swing. Henry is like Southee except with a bit more pace. We need a bowler to back up Boult. Every time he bowls, he easily looks the most likely to take a wicket. Maybe we should bring in Ben Wheeler who is a bit quicker than Southee and can swing the ball as well. We also need to get rid of this bowling coach and try get a good bowling coach like Jacob Oram

  • Beau on January 13, 2017, 8:41 GMT

    When they were being coached by Shane Bond, these two looked like world-beaters. The decline has been pretty marked since Bond's exit. Rather than lack of pace, it's been inconsistency that has dogged them over that time. When both were on song at the same time, they were lethal. Since Bond left, both have bowled well pretty often, but very rarely the same time. Didn't help that they were forced to carry Bracewell, Neesham, Anderson and whichever spinner NZ felt deserved a go for so long. None of those guys has looked "Test material" with the ball, for mine. Henry has been very disappointing too. I can't help but think it could have been a bit different for Southee and Boult had they got more support from the larger bowling group. Wagner has been a revelation now that he's being picked every Test, but that didn't eventuate until these two were already injured and off-the-boil. Test cricket is a tough game.

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