The New Zealand coach John Wright has challenged Doug Bracewell to keep aiming high after he bowled his side to victory over Australia in Hobart. Wright believes Bracewell can become a consistent world-class player following his strong performance at Bellerive Oval, which came after another match-winning effort against Zimbabwe last month.
In his third Test, Bracewell collected match figures of 9 for 60, including three important middle-order breakthroughs in the space of nine deliveries as he curved the ball in the air and accounted for Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey. On debut, Bracewell had taken five wickets in Bulawayo to rescue New Zealand when it appeared Zimbabwe would achieve their chase of 366.
"A lot of credit goes to Doug Bracewell and Timmy Southee, particularly Doug," Wright said after arriving home in New Zealand following the Hobart victory. "He's done some special things. We've been here before. We were in a similar situation against Zimbabwe going in to the last session of the game and Doug stood up in that match and he's done it again.
"He could be [something special], but there's a few like that in this team. There's a few young players who haven't had much experience, they'll take some time. I think our Test team will take some time. He's one of a number that, you look at him and think he should be wanting to be world-ranked, not just a good player for New Zealand but he should be a world-class player."
Wright has the distinction of being the only man with a direct involvement in all three of New Zealand's Test wins in Australia, having opened the batting in their victories at the Gabba and the WACA in 1985. He instilled a fighting mentality into his side and it was apparent in the way they played on the final day in Hobart that they never felt out of the game, even when Australia's chase was on track early.
"I've always enjoyed victories over Australia," Wright said. "I've had some battles with them as a player and then with India we had some great tussles. It's nice to go back there again. You always know that they're just like any other opposition: if you get them under pressure they can succumb to that."
The success in Hobart means that under the leadership of Wright and the captain Ross Taylor, New Zealand have won two of their past three Tests, having previously had only two wins from 21 matches before the Zimbabwe trip. A one-off Test against Zimbabwe at home in late January gives them a strong chance to keep that form going, but Wright talked down the idea of New Zealand being on the cusp of a special era.
"It's a bit early to tell," he said. "People tend to get a little bit carried away with victory. We'll let the dust settle. We'll pick our best side and try to get another win against Zimbabwe. Then we've got South Africa coming, who are very formidable opponents. Let's hope we can show some of the fighting qualities that people saw."