The New Zealand quick has shattered several records in his first year, but refuses to be drawn into stats
At the start of New Zealand’s home summer, Kyle Jamieson was just feeling his way into the side. The 6ft 8in quick towered over everyone else by the end of it, bagging 27 wickets in four Tests at an astonishing average of 12.25. Eleven of those wickets came in the final Test against Pakistan in Christchurch, where he had started his first-class career for Canterbury in 2014. Only Richard Hadlee and Daniel Vettori have better Test-match figures for New Zealand than Jamieson.
“It’s kind of weird when you say it! Those two guys are legends of New Zealand cricket and I’ve just played my sixth Test,” Jamieson said at the post-match media conference. “I guess It’s nice to be in and around those names but I’m just happy to be part of this group and to help in some small way in us winning games. We set out the summer with the goal of winning four Tests and just happy to do that.”
In the absence of the injured Neil Wagner, Jamieson became New Zealand’s enforcer at the Hagley Oval, harrying Pakistan with pace, bounce, swing and seam. While his bouncing out of Fawad Alam in the first innings was pure theatre, it was his dismissal of Mohammad Rizwan in the second that showed he could be just as threatening by dropping the ball on a length and moving it. Having seen that Rizwan’s game is largely about hard-handed pushes that occasionally forces his bat to travel too far in front of his body, Jamieson disguised his inswinger as a ball potentially up there for the drive, only once it pitched it turned into something entirely different, storming through the Pakistan captain’s defences.
“It’s not often you have six months where you can dedicate yourself to the game and there’s some strength and conditioning stuff which was really helpful,” Jamieson said. “The inswinger was kind of a product in the winter as well. That has come in handy a couple of times. I guess it’s a general thing. When you get such a big block of time to be able to work on your batting, bowling and strength and conditioning, it sort of comes out in ways like this.”
Jamieson has shattered several records in his first year in Test cricket, but he refused to be drawn into stats, saying he still has a lot of work to do. He’s yet to test out his skills overseas and at home, he has had to deal with the fifth day of a Test match only once.
“I still think there’s quite a bit [of improvement that can be done]. I still feel like I’m a long way off the cricketer I want to be,” Jamieson said. “I’m 12 months into my international career and it’s a long process. Hopefully, I’ve got another nine-ten years in this group and if that happens there could be a wee bit more to come.
“There’s always things you’re trying to work on. It’s nice to be able to move the ball both ways and in different conditions that won’t necessarily always be helpful. In terms of different deliveries and different formats you got white-ball cricket and different variations there. There’s nothing specific but you’re always trying to improve your game and those things kind of pop up from time to time.”
With Lockie Ferguson working his way back from injury, Matt Henry returning to the Test team and Jacob Duffy becoming the first New Zealander to take a four-wicket haul on his T20I debut this summer, New Zealand’s pace stocks have probably never been stronger. Jamieson credited their excellent High Performance system for his rapid progress as well as the overall health of the national team.
“I went to the Under-19 programme, pretty much out of high school, so had about a year-and-a-half there. And winter training squads and those sort of stuff for about four-five years,” he said. “The time and effort they’ve put into my game has certainly helped me where I am now.
“Without that, I’m definitely not sitting here, having experienced the things that I’ve, and I think our High Performance structure is probably one of the better in the world with not the same sort of money and resources that other countries have. So, that’s a huge credit to them and the powers that be there to put those plans and structures in place. “
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo