New Zealand have 4 good quick bowlers at the moment. However there's only space in the team for 3. This means that one of them has to miss out. Here's a quick look at the 4 contenders, and their strengths and weaknesses.
Southee is an interesting bowler. He bowls right arm, and mostly relies on out-swing. Praised by Allan Donald, who knows something about bowling quickly, he has produced some stellar spells, but also some absolute tripe. He has a tendency to get fired up and bowl well, but sometimes he also drops his head and loses his length.
2. Trent Boult.
Probably the quickest of the 4 front-line bowlers, Boult is a left arm swing bowler who can be almost unplayable with the new ball in swinging conditions. He has had a tendency to get out the best batsman in the opposition team, but at times struggles to dismiss tail-enders. Does not have a good record with the old ball, and isn't good at exploiting any juice in the pitch, as he tends to bowl along rather than into the pitch.
3. Doug Bracewell.
Bracewell is predominantly a seam bowler, although he does have a reasonable out-swinger. He bowls right-arm, and seems to hurry batsmen up more than his clock speed would suggest. He is particularly effective against tail-enders and when there is some assistance in the pitch. He has had some off-field issues that have caused him to miss some matches. He played age-group cricket with Southee and Boult, and they have a good combination.
4. Neil Wagner.
Wagner is the second left-armer in the group. He is quite aggressive, like Southee and Bracewell, but tends to be able to sustain his aggression longer than those two. He doesn't swing the new ball as much as Boult, but he is the best exponent in the team at reverse swing. Originally from South Africa, he decided for some reason to get elocution lessons, so that he now speaks with a New Zealand accent. He's not always popular with other bowlers, as his seam position is more angled than most others, and as a result some bowlers feel he damages the ball too quickly.
Southee and Boult bowl very well together. The have played age group cricket together for ND together and work very well together. Both have better stats when the other one is also playing than when they are not.
Bracewell is the best option if the pitch is likely to break up. He is the most likely to clean up the tail on day 5 of a test. However he is also the most likely to get hit round the park by the specialist batsmen at the top of the innings.
Wagner has a real point of difference being able to bowl well with the old ball. The NZ attack has looked venomous with the new ball, but somewhat tame with the older ball recently. Some technical changes that he has made recently have probably helped him swing the ball more too.
The ideal attack is made up of bowlers who ask different questions of the batsmen. There is a fear that Boult and Wagner ask the same questions, as they are both left arm bowlers that predominantly bring the ball back into the right-handers. However they both swing it differently, and tend to bowl different lengths, so this is probably not a valid criticism.
Southee destroyed Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, and looked like he had arrived at the place Donald suggested he could get to. But then injury kept him out of the South Africa series, and he didn't have much of an opportunity to play before the England series. He bowled reasonably well against England, but without any significant performances.
Boult was impressive against England, particularly in Auckland. He had looked incredible in Sri Lanka, and troubled the South African batsmen, without taking any significant hauls.
Bracewell didn't have much success in South Africa, and then missed the England tour through injuring his foot while cleaning up broken glass. However in the Derbyshire match he took 7/84.
Wagner was the most impressive of the New Zealand bowlers in the Dunedin test, and looked like he had finally started to show the form in Tests that he'd been exhibiting in NZ domestic cricket for quite a while. He also had a good game against Derbyshire, taking 8/78 in the match.
BJ Watling had some good time in the middle in the Derbyshire match, and so it might be sensible to rest him for the Lions match, and get Latham to keep. If Latham continues to bat at 6, it would create room to play all 4, and set up a show down between Bracewell and Wagner. At the moment I'd be tempted to go with Southee, Boult and Wagner. It's important to have your best two new ball bowlers, and then Wagner offers something with his reverse swing.
However, if it was a very green pitch, I'd be tempted to play Bracewell instead of Martin, and go with 4 quicks.
Which 3 would you pick?