Back in November, Englishman Matt Woods cut a lonely figure beyond the boundary at Aorangi Oval, muttering under his breath after being carted for 94 runs in his 10-over spell against Dunedin Metro.
Fast forward five months and the 21-year-old quick bowler is arguably the biggest weapon in South Canterbury’s arsenal as they prepare to challenge Bay of Plenty for the Hawke Cup in Rotorua, starting tomorrow.
Woods has taken 29 wickets at an average of just over 12 in the four Hawke Cup zone matches this season.
He took 10 wickets in the match against Mid Canterbury, with his best figures of seven for 58 coming under the pressure of a must-win match against Otago Country on a batsman-friendly pitch a fortnight ago.
He said he always knew he had the ability to take wickets, but believed his tough day against Dunedin Metro in the Mark Parker Memorial match kick-started his season.
“I’m glad that happened,” he said. “That was the best kick up the bum I could have had.
“‘It was a real eye-opener to see just how these tracks are not green, seaming wickets but they were actually good batting tracks.
“I’ve never been hit for that much, ever. That day I was trying to bowl too fast and my action was going all over the place.
“I needed [a tough day] to make me switch on and realise I needed to do what I always do. It’s about bowling in the right areas and being consistent.
“I haven’t tried anything fancy, I’ve just stuck to a length and tried to let the ball do all the talking. We’ve also bowled in partnerships, which certainly helps.
“I’ve never gone into a team thinking I was the best player, but I’ve always backed my ability to do a job.”
Woods said the team was “pretty confident” ahead of the encounter with Bay of Plenty.
He said his seam bowling partners Craig Hinton and Simon Murphy believed they could get wickets even if conditions did not suit them.
“We have to bowl in partnerships, create pressure and bat in partnerships,” he said.
“It is simple cricket that is going to win us the Hawke Cup.”
Woods relies largely on a good line and length with a touch of away swing.
He hoped he had shown good seam bowling was not always about pure speed.
“Most people around here think being rapid is [important], like they think if you’re not quick then why bother but you can be good with just your line and length.”