‘I’m going to make massive strides’ – batsman-turned-bowler Kyle Jamieson

New Zealand’s fledgling pace star Kyle Jamieson was “quite relaxed” leading up to his Test debut, and following his success in that game, he confident there’s “still a lot more to come” from him.

Speaking the day after New Zealand thumped India in Wellington, Jamieson spoke of his transition from batsman to bowler, the people who helped him make the switch, and what he learnt from bowling alongside Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

He also hinted at what an ideal future might hold – upping his pace, among other things. “Yeah, for sure [looking to get quicker than an average of 130kph],” he said. “I’m still a long way off where I want to be as a bowler and as a cricketer. The stuff that I started to work on with Auckland, with Heinrich [Malan, his coach at Auckland and New Zealand A], I think in the next year or so I’m going to make massive strides.”

To begin, Jamieson was a batsman. But then, when he made the step up to Under-19 cricket, Dayle Hadlee – the former New Zealand pacer, brother of Richard Hadlee, and ex-New Zealand U-19 coach – spotted something in him that pushed him to take up bowling.

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“I was pretty much a batter all through high school and then made the New Zealand U-19s and Dayle Hadlee got a hold of me and told me to run in, which kind of shifted me towards becoming more of a bowler,” Jamieson said. “I always liked batting, it was probably what I grew up admiring the most – whilst I did bowl, I did not think of that as my career option growing up.

“Now I’m a bowler who can bat, trying to get to the allrounder stage, that’s where I ideally want to be.”

Jamieson, born in Auckland, had moved to Canterbury in his late teens to develop his cricket. When he eventually made the Canterbury side, he worked with current New Zealand coach Gary Stead, who, back then, was overseeing that team. Soon after, his transition from batsman to bowler under Hadlee began.

Now Malan, who has worked with Jamieson at the New Zealand A level over the past few months, and whom the bowler followed from Canterbury back to Auckland in 2019-20, has taken over as his primary bowling guide.

“I remember watching him, first time I ever saw Kyle bowl was in Burnside Park in an U-19 tournament, and I looked at Dayle Hadlee and I told him, ‘this boy’s got a little bit about him’, and it was pretty exciting to watch”

Gary Stead on Kyle Jamieson

“I worked with Steady for a couple of years and just tried to learn that craft of bowling which I didn’t have growing up, so I’m still pretty young I guess on that journey,” Jamieson said. “For the most part, Dayle [was a big influence in making me a bowler], for my four, five, six years in Canterbury, I’m still in contact with him as well… Heinrich the last six-eight months, he’s been massive. His knowledge around bowling has certainly opened my eyes. I think those two from a bowling point of view have been massive.”

Stead remembers Jamieson from his pre-bowling days, and is amazed at the changes he has made. “I think it’s an amazing story, really. Kyle [who is now 25] was a 17-18-year-old when he came down to Lincoln University, and he actually was a batsman, didn’t really bowl at all,” Stead recalled after the Wellington Test. “So for me to see that development in six or seven years is a pretty amazing story in itself.

“I remember watching him, first time I ever saw Kyle bowl was in Burnside Park in an U-19 tournament, and I looked at Dayle Hadlee and I told him, ‘this boy’s got a little bit about him’, and it was pretty exciting to watch. [It is] a testament to the work Kyle’s put in, the way he’s developed. But also I think the coaches around him and the systems we’ve had in New Zealand cricket, which have helped him get to this point, is really pleasing.”

Now Jamieson has another outstanding source for ideas and inspiration: his New Zealand team-mates, Boult and Southee. He learnt a lot watching them at Basin Reserve, Jamieson said. “The way Trent bowled when he came down-breeze, chopping and changing the angles, real intensity… the role that Tim played in using the crease and just the accuracy – I guess it’s quite relentless in a way how they go at guys. I just observed all that.”

There remains doubt over whether Jamieson will play in Christchurch, given Neil Wagner is set to return to the set-up after paternity leave, but if he does get to play, it will be a homecoming of sorts for Jamieson. And he’s excited by the prospect: “I spent five or six years down there, pretty familiar with the ground [Hagley Oval]. It’s always going to be special, it played such a big part in the start of my journey, it will be nice to be back in that changeroom.”