Neil Wagner made Steve Smith his bunny. Picture: AAP/Michael Dodge
Neil Wagner made Steve Smith his bunny. Picture: AAP/Michael Dodge

Why no one will ‘do a Wagner’ on Smith again

JUSTIN Langer has wished the best of luck to bowlers around the world who think they can replicate the hatchet job Neil Wagner did on Steve Smith.

New Zealand's ironman fast bowler has set the blueprint for attacks around the world wanting to blunt the impact of the world's best batsman.

Wagner took Smith's wicket four out of five innings and tied him up so much the Australian took 39 balls to get off the mark in Sydney.

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But Langer has questioned whether there is anyone else in cricket with the skill and endurance of Wagner to execute such a specific game plan based on suffocation.

Even in a series which was well done on his usual standards, Smith averaged 42 against New Zealand and according to Langer, most importantly soaked up a mammoth 627 balls faced.

Langer described Wagner as a physical freak and is adamant his style of ultra-accurate, relentless, short-pitched, leg-side bowling cannot be easily imitated.

"Wagner did it brilliantly but he is the master of that style of bowling," said Langer.

"To his credit, Wagner is a brilliant exponent of that style of bowling. But not many people can do that.

"The other New Zealand guys tried to do it but it wasn't as effective.

Wagner suffocated Steve Smith with short stuff. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Wagner suffocated Steve Smith with short stuff. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"England tried to do it in the fourth (Ashes) Test but it wasn't very effective.

"Even our guys who bowl 15-20km/h quicker, it's hard for them to do what (Wagner does).

"There's a couple of things; don't underestimate the impact Steve Smith had on the series. He didn't get the big hundreds and the big accolades, but he chewed up a lot of balls when it really mattered in the first innings.

"He was outstanding without doing the superhuman stuff he did during the Ashes, but he had a great series.

"I keep saying he's the best problem solver I know in the game. They can keep trying it, but he'll find a solution.

"Smithy will work it out."

Marnus Labuschagne's record-breaking summer, Mitchell Starc's Ashes rebirth, David Warner's colossal comeback and the bowling attack's ruthless precision were the stories of one of Australia's most dominant summers.

But none of those were the highlight of Langer's summer.

"My highlight of the summer would be Tim Paine's captaincy and wicketkeeping," he said.

"People will be going, 'what about Marnus?' I could tell a story about the comeback of Mitchell Starc, I could talk about David Warner's 300 … and about Pat Cummins being the best fast bowler in the world.

"… But I think Painey's leadership, strategically and tactically, was excellent.

"The way he took to the Test Championship (team goal), the way he wicket kept, and a few of his innings - I thought Painey was brilliant this summer."

News Corp Australia

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