South African-born New Zealand cricketer Neil Wagner revealed that he had a lot of goosebumps while walking out to face his country of birth during the opening day of the second Test match between South Africa and New Zealand which kicked off on Saturday at the Centurion. While the South African batsmen dominated proceedings finishing at 283/3 at stumps on Day 1, Wagner was the most impressive bowler for the Black Caps picking up a couple of wickets,
Though Wagner admitted that it was the sight of Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald bowling in tandem for the Proteas that made him fall in love with the game during his formative years in South Africa, he revealed that he only wanted the best for his adopted country.
"It's an English country and that's where my respect is at the moment. I am a fully converted Kiwi now," Wagner said, responding to journalists who were hoping to get a few answers out of the left-handed medium fast bowler in his native Afrikaans language.
Wagner though conceded that walking out onto the field of play to contest his country of birth was a pretty emotional feeling, especially with most of his family and friends making it to the venue to catch him in action.
"Some of them have seen me play before but they don't all travel so this was the first time I've had all of my family and friends that I grew up with sit next to a field and watch a Test match," Wagner said.
"I had a lot of goosebumps when I walked out. I remember sitting on that bank and watching Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock bowl and really feeling love for this game. To walk out today and represent the Black Caps in a Test against South Africa was an amazing feeling. I loved every moment of it."
While the hosts have made a solid start to proceedings after being put into bat by New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, Wagner doesn’t think that his side made the wrong choice given the amount of grass on the wicket.
"I have never seen a wicket this time of the year that had so much grass on it. When we saw the grass on it, 100%, we were keen to bowl and a lot of the time the ball did go around," he said.
Wagner is looking forward to battling with South Africa’s stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis as he made it clear that he was not going to hold back in his attempts to get the wicket of his former primary school friend.
"You run into Faf and you want to have a laugh because there's a lot of memories from school in your head. You try and put that out of your head and focus on the battle: you want to get him out. That's the main thing," Wagner said. "Growing up it was a different story. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing - he knows what's coming."