Black Caps told: Win or end up 'last'
If the Black Caps needed any extra motivation for the second test against Australia starting in Adelaide on Friday it came via an e-mail from the International Cricket Council yesterday.
It states that, if New Zealand lose the second test, they will be overtaken by the West Indies and drop to eighth on the test rankings - effectively last, because behind them are only test minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
New Zealand coach John Bracewell brushed it off as irrelevant as he headed to the Gabba for a specialist "batsmen only" net session.
"We just work on what we work on," Bracewell said. "We made progress in the last test and we made progress in Bangladesh when we chased 317 in pretty tough conditions, and in those smalls steps we are making good improvements."
For all that, Bracewell's main headache is getting the best out of his inexperienced batting lineup.
Bracewell defended them to the hilt yesterday, saying Jamie How, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder and Daniel Flynn have "enormous" potential but, at the same time, being new to test level meant mistakes were inevitable.
"Most of these guys have had limited first-class careers, they have been picked on their first-class potential and I believe that talent is enormous when we get enough test matches into them."
Bracewell said it was unfortunate Craig McMillan, Nathan Astle, Chris Cairns, Stephen Fleming and Scott Styris had all dropped out of the test game in close proximity to each other, leaving the young ones to fend for themselves.
Bracewell is comfortable with the batting order he has in place.
"Jesse has shown he looks to have the tools for the No 3 position, Ross is establishing himself as a class No 4 but needs to take that next step to international class and our middle order has always been strong when Jacob Oram is in the side."
New Zealand travel to Adelaide today and are having a rethink about continuing with wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum at No 5. He may drop to No 7, with Peter Fulton coming in at No 5.
"That is certainly an option and we'll make a decision when we get to Adelaide and have a nosy [at the pitch]," Bracewell said.
New Zealand are also going cold on the idea of dropping paceman Tim Southee to accommodate second spinner Jeetan Patel, simply because it leaves them with only Ryder as their third seamer.