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Winery stint revitalises NZ cricketer

AAP logoAAP 4/01/2017

A winter stint at Craggy Range winery has paid dividends for Ben Wheeler, the left-arm swing bowler marking a successful return to international cricket in New Zealand's six-wicket Twenty20 win over Bangladesh.

Wheeler, 25, returned figures of 2-22 off his four overs in Napier as the Black Caps chased down Bangladesh's 141-8 with two overs to spare on Tuesday.

Despite a few early nerves, Wheeler looked at home in opening the New Zealand bowling.

"It was nice when that first ball came out and swung quite a bit - you know you're in good stead, and I was able to work into it from there," he said.

Wheeler made his ODI debut for New Zealand in June 2015, going on to play six limited-overs matches against England, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

But a back stress fracture halted his progress, restricting him to limited domestic game time for Central Districts last summer.

"I got that little bit of a taste with the two tours overseas, then to pretty much sit the whole season out with a back injury and to come back and it still not be right was tough," he said.

Wheeler had already spent time working as a teenager at Yealands Estate near Blenheim, and enjoyed his time at Hawke's Bay's Craggy Range vineyard.

"I probably didn't bowl a cricket ball for three or four months, I got away from everything in the winter and did a bit of work in the old winery, which I quite enjoy," he said.

"Once the back settled down, I got back into it, and everything seemed to have healed itself."

Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson was well pleased with Wheeler's effort at McLean Park on Tuesday.

"He swung the ball nicely at the top and we all know he's a very, very good death bowler. Those three overs he bowled up top certainly set the tone for us."

The Black Caps play the remaining two matches of the T20 series at Bay Oval in Mt Maunganui on Friday and Sunday.

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