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Will a four-pronged pace attack win WTC Test final?

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21st June, 2021
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How New Zealand cricket has changed! The Black Caps are currently playing the World Test Championship Final with a four-pronged pace attack.

Kyle Jamieson, Trent Bolt, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner were selected for the match and their attack must rank as one of the best in Test cricket.

The match has just finished the third day with New Zealand slightly on top, thanks to a reasonable batting reply and five wickets to Kyle Jamieson in the Indian innings. The other wickets were shared around the pace attack.

Although New Zealand has had great pace bowlers in the past and often with a sturdy ally, such as Richard Hadlee with Ewen Chatfield, this would have to be New Zealand’s best attack.

All of the bowlers are quite unique and offer something different to test opposing batsmen. From the lofty heights of Jamieson to the anger and wholehearted approach of Wagner, there is variety. Trent Bolt is one of the best bowlers New Zealand has produced and Southee has been on the scene since he was only 19.

It made me wonder as to the best four prong pace attacks in international cricket. Of course, the first to spring to mind is the West Indian line-up from the 70s and 80s. The Fearsome Foursome of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner terrorised batsmen with their aggressive approach.

A chap by the name of Malcolm Marshall soon replaced Croft and may have been the best of them all. The only similarity between the current Black Caps and the Windies bowling line-ups would be the equal height of Garner and Jamieson at 6 foot 8 inches. On variety alone, maybe the Black Caps are slightly better?

Tim Southee appeals

(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Over time, the foursome were replaced by a twosome, Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Most countries can proudly announce a dual pace attack with of course, Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. But it is much harder to find four-pronged pace attacks with availability and pitch conditions contributing factors.

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In Australia 2013 against Sri Lanka, Michael Clarke announced a four-prong attack of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird.

I would compare Bolt with Starc and say on consistency and a bigger heart that Bolt is superior. Mitchell Johnson is a fantastic bowler but is really remembered for his Ashes bowling in Perth 2013–14, hard choice between him and Wagner, for a long-term career I would have Wagner.

Pete Siddle versus Southee? Similar bowlers with big hearts so I can only separate them on bowling statistics. Southee 310 wickets to 221 Siddle and Southee probably a superior batsman.

No doubt in my mind that Kyle Jamieson is a superior cricketer to Jackson Bird. So, the Kiwis win that battle.

Neil Wagner

Neil Wagner (Photo by Jeremy Ng / AFP / Getty Images)

In recent times, Australia have had potential use of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and James Pattinson but correct me if I am wrong, I am not sure if they have played in the same Test together? That is quite a formidable line-up with Cummins leading the way for Australia.

Mitchell Starc on form is a brilliant bowler but I would say all four of the Kiwi bowlers would have bigger hearts, especially Wagner! Hazlewood and Pattinson are both tremendous bowlers but are they superior to their Kiwi counterparts?

South Africa have always had skilled fast bowlers with Allan Donald, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Kagiso Rabada coming to mind. But have they ever had a great four-pronged attack? I believe not.

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Pakistan has been blessed with wonderful fast bowlers including Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Imran Khan and the incomparable Wasim Akram.

Mr Google was sought, and nothing suggests that Pakistan ever had a great four-pronged pace attack in the one match. Plenty of bowlers hunting in pairs however. To have four fast bowlers selected in one team is not going to be a common occurrence.

India has always had a strong reliance on spin bowling but lacked a genuine quick bowler. In their own country they were successful with this method, but overseas they fell short on the bouncier wickets. This all changed in England 2014 when Ishant Sharma took 7 for 74 with fast, intimidating bowling.

Virat Kohli was made captain soon after and sought quality fast bowlers to help win in overseas conditions. Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami followed with these players now featuring as leading fast bowlers.

But has there ever been four genuinely quick Indian bowlers selected for the one Test and who would be better than the current Black Caps quartet? Once again Mr Google helped, with no evidence suggesting this was the case.

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Bumrah, Sharma and Shami are India’s pace bowlers in the WTC final, so who will dominate the match? The Black Caps foursome or India’s trio?

If it is the Black Caps who win the match thanks to their bowlers, will they be remembered as one of the best four prong pace attacks seen in Test cricket? Time will tell, hopefully if the rain does not disrupt everything!

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