Towering at 6ft 8in, New Zealand’s Kyle Jamieson is on a high in more ways than one.
With 36 wickets in just six Tests, the Auckland-born seamer has, so far, made the transition from domestic cricket to the international arena look easy.
And after his recent 11-wicket haul in a win over Pakistan, Jamieson now boasts the third best match figures of any Kiwi, second only to greats Richard Hadlee and Daniel Vettori.
So who exactly is the 26-year-old Black Caps sensation? And can he continue his remarkable rise in international cricket?
Breaking records but ‘not a stats man’
Jamieson is a product of Auckland Grammar School, which boasts famous cricking alumni such as former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe and current all-rounder Jimmy Neesham.
He was breaking records before his foray into the national set-up.
Playing for Canterbury Kings in the Super Smash T20 in January 2019, he took 6-7 against Auckland Aces; the third best T20 figures in cricket history.
“It just seemed to work out for me today. I’m not a big stats man,” Jamieson said after the match.
His modest and grounded reply is indicative of his character, says Heinrich Malan, who coaches Jamieson at Auckland Aces.
“He’s 100% modest, that’s what’s great about working with him,” Malan says.
“He comes across as a real aggressive person on the field but it’s just his desire to compete. In and around our group he’s just a normal guy who wants to try and get better.”
Black Caps batsman Henry Nicholls, who also plays for Canterbury Kings, told the Stumped podcast Jamieson’s progress has been “incredible”.
“You just feel like he’s been around a lot longer and it’s obviously a credit to him the way he’s handled the international game, and the skill he has speaks for itself,” said Nicholls.
His height ‘can be awkward for batsmen’
Jamieson’s performances in domestic cricket caught the eye of the national selectors. He made his international debut in February 2020 against India and picked up his first five-wicket haul in the following Test.
Former Kiwi captain Jeremy Coney says Jamieson “immediately made a difference” as opposing batsmen struggled with the bowler’s height and skill.
“Kyle’s natural pace is around mid 80mph which isn’t blindingly quick but it’s quick enough, especially if you bowl at the length he bowls from his height,” Coney adds.
“He bowls full and because he’s so full, batsmen are reluctant to push forward. So he tends to keep people on the crease.
“That different incline can be awkward for batsmen, a bit like West Indies’ Joel Garner did when I was playing.”
Although Coney is quick to play down any premature comparisons with the likes of West Indies legend Garner.
“Everybody is going mad on Kyle at the moment but let’s give him a few more seasons and see how he goes,” Coney counters.
“I’m reluctant to wildly embrace it because we’ve seen players like that, perhaps more with the bat, come in and do well for New Zealand and slide away.
“Although saying that, I don’t get the impression that will happen with Kyle.”
He’s also come along at just the right time for New Zealand, complementing a fantastic bowling attack which also includes left-arm paceman Trent Boult, right-arm master of seam and swing Tim Southee and the more aggressive but equally effective left-arm quick Neil Wagner.
Between them – and Kane Williamson’s runs – they have helped the Black Caps to number one in the Test rankings.
“We’ve had Boult and Southee for some time, to which Wagner joined and added something new,” added Coney.
“But over the last two years we’ve met this guy and it’s not as if he’s new to high level cricket – he arrived against India last year and immediately made a difference. Obviously his height comes a lot into play.”
An all-rounder in the making?
It is unsurprising that Jamieson started off his career as a batsman; he has scored 226 runs at an average 56.50 in his short Test career.
In a match between a New Zealand XI and a touring England side in 2018, Jamieson hit 101 from 111 balls against a bowling attack which included James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood.
His innings seemed to get under the skin of Anderson, who reportedly shared a few words with Jamieson.
“He had a few nice words to me, just telling me to keep going, so it was nice,” the Kiwi joked at the time.
But can Jamieson become a genuine all-rounder?
“He’s getting a better understanding of becoming the batter he wants to be,” Malan said.
“As we gear up to two Twenty20 World Cups, he’s got a lot of potential to shine with the bat, especially as a tall, lanky dude.”
With the ability to take wickets and score runs lower down the order, Jamieson may well be in line for lucrative offers of franchise T20 cricket this year.
But playing for New Zealand remains his priority, according to Malan.
“Having spoken to him, his goal is to play international cricket,” he says.
“Kyle has said no over the last 12 months to go play offshore with the goal in mind that he wants to cement his place in the Black Caps side. He’s said no to certain opportunities and it’s paid off.
“The outside noise and all the opportunities that come his way, he’ll have some decisions to make. There will be a lot more interest from teams and franchises around the world, like the Indian Premier League.”