Southee + Boult + Wagner + Jamieson - 'it's got to be the best' attack, says Shane Jurgensen
Shane Jurgensen, the New Zealand bowling coach, has described winning the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) as his "greatest coaching achievement".
"I think for me this is about, for all of New Zealand really, from people that have always gone to [put] the extra effort from New Zealand Cricket's staff, board, sponsors, the caterers at the ground we play at, the curators at all the grounds, the physios, the domestic coaches and the CEOs - everyone has had an input into this somewhere and a valuable contribution and it really means a lot to us now," he said. "I think, at times, I've been really emotional in my room, and also for me personally my wife because she puts up with me being away a lot. For me, personally, this is my greatest coaching achievement."
Jurgensen, a journeyman cricketer who has held coaching roles with Bangladesh, Fiji, Scotland, and New Zealand after leaving the game, revealed that he was crying tears of joy and rewatching New Zealand's sixth-day final victory during MIQ (Managed Isolation Quarantine).
"I've seen a few highlights. I've sort of been reading a lot and watching a bit on YouTube, so looking at it from all different angles," Jurgensen said. "But for me what is different this time is the reflection on me personally and also you know for me in my area - the bowling unit what they have achieved… I think the morning of the last day to be able to make the vital breakthroughs with Kyle [Jamieson] and Tim [Southee] and Trent [Boult]. It was a fantastic effort to put ourselves in a position to chase a reasonably low total.
"Oh! I've cried. I've cried a few times - probably every day since the win. You sort of sit there and then you go: 'Wow! World Test champions'. There's been some fantastic players over a number of years who have played for this team. I've just had Iain O'Brien on the phone actually telling me that he's watched the end of it twice and cried. I've had Gav [Gavin] Larsen, our selector who works really hard behind the scenes, he called it his best day in cricket and that's a guy that played a lot for New Zealand and you know it means a lot."
Jurgensen delivered a glowing appraisal of the New Zealand attack, reckoning they were the best in the world, having been there and done that over a period of time.
"I think so. I've been thinking that [New Zealand have the best attack] for a while. So it's just me and my role and belief in these bowlers; what they bring to us as a team and the challenges they have overseas," he said. "But, I think they are and we can probably strongly say that right now - this hasn't been a fluke and it has been happening for a long time. As I said, the belief in the bowling group - how they plan, how fit they are, how strong they are and how much they believe in each other. The trust is amazing and we got four or five bowlers in the final, but all do different things.
"Kyle's height and accuracy, to be able to swing it both ways at good pace. Tim's accuracy, new-ball execution - unbelievable. He can adapt to use the crease - over and around - to left-handers and right-handers. We know Trent's ability with the new ball, but he took wickets with the old ball; he's been doing that for a while, so it's nothing new for me and the team. We know that Neil [Wagner] makes people uncomfortable on the back foot and the front foot with the lengths he bowls, but he's now getting guys out like Trent. So, he's building up a different skillset to be able to swing the ball both ways and seam it. Colin [de Grandhomme] is 125 [kph] and accurate; he bowls higher than 125, so it's got to be up there… it's got to be the best for me and they are proving it."
Southee also hailed the versatility in the attack, saying the relentless pressure generated by the pack made the difference. "I guess you look at New Zealand history, you've had periods where you've had one or two good bowlers, obviously Richard Hadlee, and then Dan Vettori doing his thing, sort of chipped in with the likes of Chris Martin and a number of other guys along the way, but I guess in terms of having the four of us in one time is pretty special," Southee said. "Not only the four of us but also the work de Grandhomme does in and around the pace bowlers as well, and also Matt Henry has chipped in during that England series as well, so I think just to have four of us, three of us with an excess of 200 Test wickets, is pretty special, and probably a once-in-a-lifetime sort of experience for New Zealand cricket.
"So giving a few kids around New Zealand the inspiration to grow up and want to be bowlers rather than just batters, so yeah, it's been an absolute pleasure to be a part of, and hopefully we can continue to do great things for this side in the years to come."
New Zealand's spin stocks, as they prepare for tours of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, with the T20 World Cup thrown in, have been a topic of discussion, especially with the team not fielding even one spinner for the WTC final. Left-armer Ajaz Patel has re-established himself as New Zealand's No. 1 spinner, but there are Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville, Rachin Ravindra and Michael Rippon around as options.
"Seeing what Ajaz did against England was absolutely fantastic," Jurgensen said. "I was so excited for Ajaz to get that opportunity at Edgbaston against England to see him get wickets in both innings - it was sort of real confidence for him and also for us to again to say we have the subcontinent tours coming up and we have got Ajaz, Will and Rachin. There are plenty of options. Rippon from Otago will qualify soon and there's plenty of guys putting up their hands. So, there's going to be some tough selections coming up. So, it's a nice position to be in and we have to prepare accordingly like we always do with our marquee and our camps and give it our best shot."
New Zealand's overall depth was on display at Edgbaston where they made six changes, keeping the WTC final in mind, but they still came out on top.
"Obviously, winning the final was the standout, but to see those guys come in and literally fit like a glove, and do their roles - it was just great to see," Jurgensen said. "So, satisfying for our systems - the A programme, the winter-training squad, the domestic development of players and the support that we get from coaches, high-performance managers and CEOs. It's a real fantastic tick in the box for what's going on now in New Zealand cricket."