PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 14: Neil Wagner of New Zealand celebrates after taking the wicket of Steve Smith of Australia during day three of the First Test match in the series between Australia and New Zealand at Optus Stadium on December 14, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 14: Neil Wagner of New Zealand celebrates after taking the wicket of Steve Smith of Australia during day three of the First Test match in the series between Australia and New Zealand at Optus Stadium on December 14, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Kiwis hit back at Bodyline claims

New Zealand has hit back at "Bodyline" insinuations by declaring there is nothing unsportsmanlike about Neil Wagner's short-pitch tactics.

Australia's dropping of the "Bodyline" description in the wake of the first Test immediately draws comparisons to one of the most controversial episodes in the history of Test cricket.

Also known as fast leg theory bowling, the game has changed several of its laws since the infamous 1932-33 Ashes series when England captain Douglas Jardine used physical intimidation and stacked leg-side fields to blunt the impact of Sir Donald Bradman with short balls aimed at the body.

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Wagner and David Warner face off after a short ball. Photo: AP Photo/Trevor Collens
Wagner and David Warner face off after a short ball. Photo: AP Photo/Trevor Collens

 

New Zealand confirmed Trent Boult is set to return from a side issue to play on Boxing Day in a timely boost, but the fact is the injury to Lockie Ferguson has left the Blackcaps without a 140km/h firebrand to match Australia's pace arsenal.

It won't stop lion-hearted antagonist Wagner from ripping in again in Melbourne after he harassed the likes of Steve Smith and Matthew Wade in Perth.

New Zealand coach Garry Stead was quick to defend Wagner and clear up any suggestion that "Bodyline" equates to below the belt.

 

Matthew Wade cops a short one. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Matthew Wade cops a short one. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

 

 

"Neil Wagner, if you look at his career, he has built his career around bowling about chest-high and he has done it very well," said Stead.

"The thing that's worked well for Neil is he's not as tall as other people. And what he does is it then skids at the batsman and makes it very hard to evade.

"Is it Bodyline? I don't know. I think it's part of the game. A bouncer is a legitimate delivery."

During the Test Australian players David Warner and Nathan Lyon questioned whether New Zealand in fact deserved their reputation as "Mr Nice Guys".

 

 

Neil Wagner is still a nice guy. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Neil Wagner is still a nice guy. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

 

Lyon was picked up on the stump microphone calling Kiwi quick Tim Southee a "fake Mr Nice Guy".

But Lyon reinforced the impression that the image of New Zealand players is in fact true.

"No, they are a bunch of nice guys, they're lovely guys. They don't sledge me or anything," said Lyon.

"I've got no dramas with the Kiwis they're lovely guys and there's some world class cricketers in that squad. We are expecting them to bounce back pretty hard."

New Zealand will add a new fast bowler to its squad on Tuesday, but Stead admits there's no speed demons left in the Land of the Long White Cloud for selectors to pick.

But the good news is one of the world's top ranked bowlers will return just in time for the MCG showdown.

"His fitness is looking likely," said Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson.

"It was a close one for this one. So hopefully he'll be fully fit for the next match."

News Corp Australia


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