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Wagner gets by with a little help from friends

Newshub logoNewshub 14/03/2019 Grant Chapman
a group of people standing around each other: Trent Boult congratulates Neil Wagner on his five-wicket bag against Bangladesh. © Image - Photosport, video - Newshub Trent Boult congratulates Neil Wagner on his five-wicket bag against Bangladesh.

Blackcaps bowler Neil Wagner has paid tribute to the teammates that have paved the way for his rise up world test rankings.

The South African-born paceman jumped six spots to fifth on the latest ICC list released this week, a direct result of his 9/73 in the second test against Bangladesh in Wellington. He captured his sixth five-wicket bag in the second innings, after taking four in the first.

Wagner has now edged ahead of new-ball colleagues Trent Boult (seventh) and Tim Southee (12th), and their combined performance has helped New Zealand to their highest-ever team ranking of second.

He has also become only the third Kiwi - behind Boult and Sir Richard Hadlee - to score 800 points on the ranking system.

But Wagner's short-pitched style means he's unlikely to actually hit the stumps, so he relies heavily on his mates to make their often-difficult catches, as batsmen awkwardly fend off his bouncers.

According to cricinfo.com, he's bowled short on 258 of his 313 balls (82 percent) during the current series, with only one of his 16 wickets coming from a direct hit. The others are all catches in the field.

"As a bowler, you dream of wickets that allow you to swing one through the gate and take middle stump out of the ground," he says. "I don't think there's a more satisfying feeling as a bowler.

"But the thing I do like about my dismissals is they bring the team into play - the catches they take are phenomenal and they're not easy positions either.

"The work they do behind the scenes to be able to take those catches, I wouldn't have those wickets, if it wasn't for that. I feel like the wickets are a team effort and that gets me pumped up."

Somewhat ironically, Boult has been most responsible for his teammate's elevation past him on world rankings, taking five of those 15 catches.

"Seeing the look on his face afterwards, when he does take them, he loves taking those catches and wants them to be harder than they are," grins Wagner.

"That makes me confident when they go down there, I know he's got his hands wrapped around it."

The Blackcaps and Bangladesh square off again in their third and final test, beginning Saturday in Christchurch.

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