New Zealand and Otago seamer Neil Wagner raring to go with Essex
Essex’s new overseas star Neil Wagner can’t wait to get started, despite a hectic summer for both his club and country.
The 31-year-old, a left-arm seamer, has been plying his trade for Otago in New Zealand and has also played for his country in their recent home Tests against South Africa and Bangladesh.
Born in South Africa, Wagner became eligible to play for New Zealand after a four-year stand down period and was their most successful Test bowler of 2016, taking 32 wickets at 21 from seven matches.
He had a short spell last season with Lancashire, ironically the team he is likely to make his Essex debut against tomorrow in the First Division, and has also played for Northants.
“It’s been a pretty busy summer, I have played a lot of cricket and hopefully I will not be too jet-lagged as travelling is part and parcel of the game,” said Wagner, who once took five wickets in an over for Otago, six years ago today.
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“The weather is not too dissimilar here (to New Zealand), I will have to adapt to the ball change and the different conditions – the wickets might be a bit slower and I might have to bowl different lengths, but it’s part of the process.
“I don’t make targets, I used to, but that puts a lot of pressure on an individual and I don’t want to be worrying or focusing on my own personal performance too much. It’s what I can bring to the team and contribute to the team.
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“You might get a day where you get no wickets and contribute no runs but your playing well for the guy at the other end, and the same thing could happen to me and I get the rewards.
“It’s about creating that relationship with your mate at the other end and hopefully getting that ultimate result.”
Ahead of tomorrow’s game against his former side, Wagner reflected on the season ahead and what Specsavers County Championship First Division is likely to offer,
“It’s always going to be tough, it’s quality cricket all year round over here, but if I look at the team and the group, there is a wealth of experience, and youth coming through. It’s a good place to be and there is a healthy balance,” Wagner added.
“There are some good players in this team and we need to hit the ground running.”