In the Blackcaps squad is one player that doesn't feature in the plaudits often when analysing the team's performances in CWC 2015 to date. His figures at first glance aren't in the same stratosphere as his two opening bowler partners, but he's doing his work quietly and with some real success.
Adam Milne is the fresh face of the Blackcaps. Still only 22 and capable on his day of 150kph+ bowling, he has etched himself a niche in the top team. Yes we remember his great diving catch, and admire his enthusiasm in the field chasing down boundary stoppers but his real success has come at the bowling crease. How so?
He's a stock bowler par excellence. A fast stock bowler. And more often than not a very accurate stock bowler. And he comes on after the two swing bowlers get a rest and usually is bowling when Daniel Vettori is bowling hence my labeling him a stock bowler. He doesn't take many wickets but for a young protege he is doing the business with the ball, putting it in the right channels, tying down an end, and giving Vettori the support for his success.
So what of his figures this World Cup:
Game One Sri Lanka
10 overs 0 maidens 58 runs for 2 wickets ER 5.8 (Southee 4.6, Boult 6.3)
Game Two Scotland
7 overs 0 maidens 32 runs 0 wickets ER 4.57
Game Three England
5.2 overs 1 maiden 25 runs 1 wicket ER 4.68
Game Four Australia
3 overs 0 maidens 6 runs 0 wickets ER 2 (that is a very telling set of figures)
Game Five Afghanistan
10 overs 0 maidens 38 runs 1 wicket ER 3.8
Average figures over five games
7 overs 0.20 maidens 31.9 runs 0.8 wickets ER 4.15
It's obvious then (to me at least) that Adam Milne is a cog in the machine. For Vettori to do well Milne has to be bowling fast and accurately and putting pressure on batsmen to score elsewhere. And going into the knockout phases he has the ability to provide more of the same and more. Most good teams when batting will target him, at their peril.