Cricket: Trent Boult's return boosts Blackcaps' under-fire bowling stocks at perfect time against Australia

If the Blackcaps bowling stocks needed a boost for the Twenty20 International series against Australia, the return of Trent Boult could be just what the doctor ordered.  

New Zealand have fallen to a six-wicket defeat to their trans-Tasman foes at Wellington's Sky Stadium, in a game where both side's batters took charge.  

In 40 overs, 431 runs were scored across both innings and 30 sixes were hit. Of the 11 bowlers used by both sides, only New Zealand's Lockie Ferguson (1/23) went at less than a run a ball.

Trent Boult appeals (2019).
Trent Boult appeals (2019). Photo credit: Getty Images

As the series heads north for games two and three at Auckland's Eden Park - traditionally, a bowler's graveyard - Boult's return couldn't come soon enough.  

He takes the place of test captain Tim Southee in the New Zealand squad, as a means of staying match-fit before the Indian Premier League, and Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA later this year.  

Despite his limited involvement in the Blackcaps over the past two years, after handing back his central contract to become a Twenty20 freelancer, Boult is still one of the best New Zealand has to offer.  

Just last week, he was part of the Mumbai Indians Emirates side that won the UAE International League T20 competition and finished with 16 wickets at an average of less than 22 for the tournament.  

With the Blackcaps bowling stocks needing a lift, his place in the side is never taken for granted. 

"He's world class," said Ferguson. "I've said it many times before.

"Not only the bowling that he brings to the park, but obviously the conversations he has as a senior player.  

"He's been playing a huge amount of T20s, and in my books, he keeps getting better every time he comes back and joins the group.  

"He was fantastic with us in the World Cup in India. The experience, having that on the field, the guys feed off that.  

"He adds left-arm swing, he'll be raring to go on Friday."  

While their bowlers struggled, the Blackcaps can also take solace in the return to form of Devon Conway, who hit a 46-ball 63, including five boundaries and two sixes.  

Trent Boult celebrates a wicket.
Trent Boult celebrates a wicket. Photo credit: Getty Images

It was Conway's first 50-plus score in any format since the opening game of last year's Cricket World Cup, when he struck an unbeaten 152 against England at Ahmedabad.   

As part of partnerships worth 61 with Finn Allen (32) and 113 with Rachin Ravindra (68), Conway, 32, didn't look out of place at the top of New Zealand's order.  

After last week's test series win over South Africa, coach Gary Stead publicly backed Conway to refind his best and he delivered.  

"He's world class, isn't he?" said Ferguson. "It was a matter of time until he found his way again.

"That's international sport, it's definitely not easy. It's testament to his character the way he's come through and obviously put on a great performance tonight.  

"I said to him I didn't even notice he was keeping, he was keeping so well. He said that's the best compliment he could get.  

"Behind the wickets, he was great as well. It's always nice to play with that boy."

Join Newshub at 7pm Friday for live updates of the second Blackcaps v Australia T20