Who will be the next great 82mph bouncer bowler now that Neil Wagner has retired?

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Everyone has a favourite batter. Everyone has a favourite fast bowler. Everyone also has a favourite fast-medium short ball workhorse bowler… and it’s always Neil Wagner, because no-one else in the history of cricket has ever made that work.

Unique cricketers usually stand out for very obviously freakish physical reasons. Muttiah Muralitharan is the most obvious example. Only the tiniest proportion of people on Earth are physically capable of moving their body in the way that made his off-wrist-spin possible.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is another. No-one else has ever seen fit to employ Shiv’s Artful-Dodger-with-rickets batting technique. Lasith Malinga and his horizontal arm also come to mind.

But Wagner? Or to give him his full name, The Great Neil Wagner? He was a left-armer, yes, but his action was unremarkable, his height was unremarkable and his speed was right in the fattest part of the bell curve of professional seam bowlers. He was actually once clocked at 160km/h, but it turned out this was down to interference from a seagull.

Just imagine for a moment being the coach of a very young Wagner as he explains how he plans to take 260 Test wickets at 27.57.

“I’m going to bounce them out.”

“Um… okay? You know you’re not exactly express pace, right, Neil?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Um, I think it does. Are you planning to surprise batters with the occasional lifter or something?”

“No, I’m going to bowl pretty much nothing but short balls.”

“Do you really think you’re going to be trusted with the new ball with that approach?”

“I’m going to do it with the old ball.”


“And I’m going to bowl 15-over spells.”


Neil Wagner is unique because he made this method work in defiance of all history and logic. He did it so well that he earned the highest honour in cricket when he was named Lord Megachief of Gold 2019.

Almost anyone could bowl like Neil Wagner, yet no-one has ever before succeeded by doing so, and we find it very hard to believe that anyone ever will again.

Wagner was his own brand of unique. Uniquely unique, if you will.

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  1. Neil Wagner.

    Actually, I came here to draw attention to the following statement by BB McCullum:

    “As much as England is about playing on good wickets and having the ball move off the seam, it should also be about playing on spinning wickets too.”

    Good wickets
    Spinning wickets

    Pick one.

    Neil Wagner.

  2. Neil Wagner.

    Although I have not been a follower of NZ cricket or of Neil Wagner. I have always been drawn to the man and very much appreciate his craft. Although not a man to take the to the big stage and be the big ego driven narcissist that some cricketers can tend to be, he has always had a charisma of a leader and a man you would aspire to be. Although he will probably never get a knighthood, I think he deserves one. Even when he was bringing on the imminent England collapse, you can’t complain, because its Neil Wagner. All you can do is admire and appreciate his craft.

  3. Somehow doubt the retirement of any other 5’10” medium-fast bowler will leave me so close to tears. Even another left-armer.

    Neil Wagner

  4. Are you sure you mean uniquely unique? I’d have said literally unique.

    I’m literally racking my brain to try to understand fully those two terms.

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