Sprawling across the green outfield, 6″8′ Kyle Jamieson reached the ball and pulled off a neat, low catch, cool-headed, and barely blinking an eye as New Zealand broke through with another wicket, one of the resilient Mayank Agarwal. Most debutants would be content after dismissing batsmen of the stature of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli on Test debut.
Jamieson, though, likes to go the extra mile. More than what he brings to the table, the “what else” stuff he adds makes him a captain’s dream player.
Take for instance his ODI debut earlier this month. His first chance came with the bat and Jamieson, walking in with his side at 197 for 8, decided to give the Indian bowlers some stick. He combined with Ross Taylor in a brutal 76-run partnership off 8.3 overs to take his side to a winning total, contributing 25 off 24 balls in the process.
A memorable show on debut, good enough to hide a poor performance with the ball. But Jamieson doesn’t falter with the ball. He cleans up a dangerous looking Prithvi Shaw – who had hit six fours enroute 24 in 18 balls – with one that nipped back in. Later, as Navdeep Saini and Ravindra Jadeja tried to emulate Taylor and Jamieson, the tall seamer cleaned up the tail-ender to seal the game for the Kiwis.
This isn’t a one-off example either.
A few days before this, in a game against India A for New Zealand A, Jamieson smashed 11 runs in the last over by Ishan Porel after coming in to bat two overs before and then went on to dismiss a good-looking Ruturaj Gaikwad and followed it up with the massive wicket of Suryakumar Yadav in the next over. He wasn’t done even then. Jamieson defended seven runs in the final over, conceding just one run and dismissing the two tail-enders off back to back deliveries to win the game for his side.
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A year back, Jamieson hit headlines for recording the third best T20I bowling figures ever – a mesmerising six for 7 against Auckland for Canterbury. He wasn’t content with even that and played a role in running out Glenn Phillips before the dangerous batsman could get going in his innings.
Roll back one more year, and Jamieson was again up to the task when the team needed him. Against a touring England side, Jamieson walked in at no.8 for New Zealand XI and smashed a 111-ball 101, riding through a barrage of words from James Anderson. He followed up this batting performance with a good showing with the ball, finishing as the most economical bowler in a 13-over spell.
Contributing across disciplines is a very Kiwi thing. The land of the dibbly dobbly all-rounders, New Zealand players have always been good at multi-tasking and Jamieson, despite his tall frame giving him an evident role, wants to be in the thick of action whether bowling, batting or fielding. With an ability to go full from a really high delivery point, Kyle Jamieson is always in the game as a bowler. It is these additional things that will eventually make him indispensable and he knows it.
On day one of his Test debut at the Basin Reserve – a Test he wouldn’t even have played had Neil Wagner not taken off for his wife’s delivery – Jamieson was a clear add-on to the potent New Zealand attack of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme, the best exponents of swing and cloud cover in the country.
Pujji bhaag bc level ball. pic.twitter.com/1uA66mTaLd
— Silly Point (@FarziCricketer) February 20, 2020
He came on as the fourth bowler behind these three and immediately made India’s most assured batsman until then – Cheteshwar Pujara – circumspect by angling one delivery into him and beating the edge with late away swing and bounce. In his third over, he produced another corker – very similar to the delivery in his first over, only closer to the batsman – to force an edge off India’s no. 3 batsman.
Too wide to even look at it! pic.twitter.com/1NQxRY5uBV
— Silly Point (@FarziCricketer) February 20, 2020
To Kohli, Jamieson had forged a pretty good plan early on. His first delivery at the Indian skipper was a short, rising ball – one you would expect from a 2.03m high bowler – that Kohli ducked under. There were four short balls in all at the Indian skipper, forcing him onto the back foot. After setting up Kohli for the short ball, Jamieson, in very James Anderson-esque fashion, teased Kohli with the fuller wide ball that jagged away. Too outlier to resist the temptation to go for the drive, Kohli hung his bat out to drive and the edge was snaffled up by the slip cordon.
Add in the catch to dismiss Mayank Agarwal later in the day, and Jamieson had done his job on debut. Even if he had finished his day with a poor few overs, Jamieson would have hit the headlines of most newspapers in India. But he loves going the extra mile, and Jamieson proved that as he snaffled another wicket – that of Hanuma Vihari – to give New Zealand that additional edge at stumps on day one. A centurion from the warm-up game, Vihari was pushed into the XI to beef up the batting, and getting rid of the in-form batter was a big bonus for the Kiwis.
Brought into the squad ahead of Matt Henry – perhaps controversially – what impressed the New Zealand think-tank about Jamieson was his energy and enthusiasm in the nets even when he wasn’t playing. “Kyle impressed the coaching staff in his time with the Test squad for the Melbourne and Sydney Tests and will feel comfortable in the environment if included,” selector Gavin Larsen had said when he was picked for the ODIs against India.
A month back, Jamieson was perhaps sixth in line behind Boult, Southee, Wagner, Henry and Lockie Ferguson in the pace bowling pecking order. After a rip-roaring show on day one at Wellington, he might just jump a few places. Knowing his tendency to go the extra distance, it is also unlikely that he is done for the Test match. Maybe a further few wickets in this innings or a half-century when the team has its back against the wall or a game-changing second innings spell or a nice, juicy concoction of all this could be in the offing. This lad is one to keep a close eye on. You could barely miss him, given his tall frame, but it’s unlikely you would have missed him had he been shorter too.