England v New Zealand: We will try to win it with words, says Neil Wagner

Kiwi paceman reveals secrets of his sledging at the England batsmen ahead of second Test

England's fragile batting order can expect an old-fashioned reception committee in Leeds this week. That is to say they will be sledged up hill and down dale.

There will be a barrage of invective, insults and possibly innuendo from New Zealand. The way that Neil Wagner, the tourists' left-arm swing bowler, described it, it sounds like huge fun – and if they should manage to get under England's skin before the Ashes then so be it.

In a candid assessment of his team's intentions Wagner outlined his approach to each of the opposition batsmen in the second Test starting at Headingley on Friday. He will not be trying out many one-liners.

"I think it's more about getting into a guy's face," he said. "It's about irritating them, make 'em really angry, make 'em look at you and think, 'I really do want to hit this guy for four'. You have just got to get them to the point where they really hate you. When you get to that point, you sometimes make them think about something else in a split second of concentration-lapse that could give you a wicket."

Wagner revealed that he had already had a few spats with England's No 3 batsman, Jonathan Trott, who like him was born in South Africa. But it seems the only batsmen who can expect a quiet time of it are Alastair Cook, who is so unresponsive to sledging that they have ceased to bother, and Ian Bell, who has stunned them into silence by politeness.

"It's just a spur-of-the-moment thing as soon as you can see a little battle and take it on," said Wagner. "I think there was an occasion in the previous Test where myself and Trott had one. He is one of those guys who is quite focused.

"I thought I would have a little bit of a crack and it might unsettle him, maybe get him driving a couple of times.

"It didn't really work out on that day but it did in Eden Park in Auckland. We tried to get him driving and he did and played at one and nicked one."

With New Zealand anxious to recover from their mauling on the fourth day at Lord's, when they were bowled out for 68 and lost, by 170 runs, a match in which they were ahead for much of the time, they suspect they may be helped by the Ashes.

Although England have reinforced their ban on talk of the series against Australia, the present tourists think it will be playing on some minds. England might not be speaking about it but everybody else is.

Wagner said: "We couldn't care less about the Ashes, to be honest. We're not looking at it at all, for us it is about trying to get a win away. But it is something we can pick on, but for them, they will focus on trying to win the series and taking that confidence into the Ashes.

"If you get them two or three down quickly, we can definitely put the squeeze on them. But they've still got a couple of match-winning performers, so that's something to be aware of and not get too far ahead of ourselves."

England may be difficult to upset since, as Wagner conceded, they displayed infinite patience at Lord's "and gave us nothing". But he was sure that both Nick Compton and Jonny Bairstow would be nervous and that Bairstow, like Joe Root, might be affected by the desire to do well on his home ground.

"You've got to be careful," Wagner said. "With Compton, when we tried to get under his skin a bit, he played quite well and ended up scoring a hundred at Wellington. Some players thrive on something like that, other players tend to be more nervous. There's a fine line. Some players, you let them be and they're more nervous because they're waiting for something to happen."

Wagner said that he was probably the most chirpy of the New Zealanders, though his fellow paceman Tim Southee was also partial to a word or two. But he admitted that with Cook and Bell it would be different.

"Cooky is just one of those guys that the more you try and talk to him, the better he is going to play. He is one of those guys where it is not going to work. You just have to let him be.

"I have a lot of respect for Ian Bell and he always gives you a little bit of a nod when you give him a good one or is always happy to tell you, 'well bowled'," Wagner added. "You can't help but give him a bit of a smile. When he hits you for four, you nod back and say, 'well played'."

And what of the absent Kevin Pietersen. Perhaps a text message? "Most definitely," said Wagner.

Wagner's tips: How England react to sledging

Alastair Cook

Not sledged because the England captain simply does not respond, or else he will play even better. But Wagner suggested that overconfidence could sometimes be his downfall.

Nick Compton

Wagner pointed out that he played "a rash shot out of nowhere" at Lord's and was still looking to find his feet in Test cricket, so the Kiwis could thrive on that.

Jonathan Trott

Prone to a word or two himself when fielding, and the Kiwis will repay him in kind, hoping he plays a false shot.

Ian Bell

Silence is the best policy but Wagner said: "I have had a couple of occasions when he has driven me through the covers – then you do give him a little bit of a stare or glare."

Joe Root

Young, top-class performer but appearing on his home ground might play on his mind. "We'll definitely have a couple of words and try to get underneath his skin a bit."

Jonny Bairstow

One of those who looks a bit nervous at the moment and therefore he would be the subject of a word or two to try to unsettle him. Will also be playing on home turf at Headingley.

Matt Prior

Always ready to swap banter with opponents and Wagner, going out to bat at Lord's, said he knew what was coming when Prior smiled. Prior himself will not be spared after his Lord's pair.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments