New Zealand's players celebrate after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Isuru Udana during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match in Cardiff on Saturday. Photo: Nigel French/AP

CARDIFF – New Zealand speedster Lockie Ferguson believes fast bowling, like leg-spin, is an “X-factor” in one-day cricket and will play a crucial role in the World Cup.

Ferguson combined with fellow paceman Matt Henry to help New Zealand thrash Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in their opening game of the 50-over showpiece event on Saturday in Cardiff.

While Henry rattled Sri Lanka’s top order with his opening spell, it was Ferguson who took key wickets in the middle with his express pace to bowl out Sri Lanka for 136.

But remind the 27-year-old Ferguson of his ability to clock speeds up to 96 mph (154 kph) and being among the top quick guns around the world, the Auckland-born bowler turns humble. 

“Just like leg-spin bowlers they (fast bowlers) can turn it both ways. It’s an X-factor part of the game, of course it’s nice to see other fast bowlers bowling quick,” Ferguson told reporters.

“Of course it’s a little bit of rivalry in parts, but it’s not like I am watching every ball and comparing myself,” he said with a laugh.

Express bowlers have already turned on the heat on English pitches, with West Indies’ Oshane Thomas helping dismantle Pakistan for just 105 with his four wickets in the second game of the tournament

England quick Jofra Archer also made an impact in th World Cup opener, taking three for 27 runs in his team’s 104-run hammering of South Africa.

Ferguson, who made his ODI debut against Australia in Sydney in 2016, is happy that conditions in England and Wales appear to be providing a good balance between the bat and ball.

“I think there are going to be games where there are big runs scored and going to be some games where you know bowlers will have a bit of dominance,” he said.

“Which is great, because it keeps the competition level-headed, especially for us bowlers,” he added.

The Black Caps boast an impressive pace attack that proved their worth against Sri Lanka in the absence of senior quick Tim Southee who is recovering from a calf strain.

Left-arm quick Trent Boult whipped up good speed on a green Sophia Gardens pitch and Ferguson was also delighted with the early strikes made by team-mate Matt Henry.

“It’s always great when everyone taking wickets. One-day cricket as you all know, traditionally in the last few years it has been tough to take wickets,” said Ferguson.

“It’s nice to get wickets up front definitely makes my job easier (as) again then I am bowling to a middle-order, they don’t probably have the opportunity to come hard at me. 

“It’s always nice to follow a seam bowling pair whether it is Trent and Matt or Tim Southee in other games too.”

New Zealand, who reached the final of the 2015 World Cup after six semi-final losses in previous editions, are now a force to reckon and Ferguson is excited to be a member of the Kane Williamson-led side.

“New Zealand play an exciting brand of cricket. The squad that we have got is definitely one that can put our best foot forward,” said Ferguson.

AFP