Black Caps turn a deaf ear - Greatbatch

MATT RICHENS AND MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 29/08/2012
Daniel Flynn
Reuters

LESSONS NOT LEARNT: India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (L) appeals successfully for the LBW wicket of New Zealand's Daniel Flynn.

Black Caps v India
Reuters Zoom
India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (L) appeals successfully for the LBW wicket of New Zealand's Daniel Flynn (C) off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin during the second day of their first test cricket match in Hyderabad.

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Former New Zealand batting coach Mark Greatbatch has questioned whether today's Black Caps have taken on board years of coaching and advice.

The tourists' vulnerability against spin bowling was ruthlessly exposed in their innings and 115-run defeat to India in the first test, where 18 of the 20 New Zealand wickets fell to spinners.

Though conditions were always going to be tough for batting after day one in Hyderabad, Greatbatch believed the poor return against the spinners was part of a bigger problem.

"You can only teach them so much, they have to take it on board and I'm questioning whether or not they are," he said.

"In the last four or five years, there have been people who have worked with players on playing spin and you'd have to question whether or not the information being delivered and talked about is being held on to.

"The top 20 to 30 fringe players have had access to resources and coaches, you name it, they've had it, but they're not getting any better in that department."

The side's last three tests, where spin has accounted for 36 wickets, could be offered as exhibits A, B and C to Greatbatch's claim.

There might have been as many as 40-50 people that have worked with the batsmen in one capacity or another in the past 10 years, he said.

"A cynic would ask if all that information they've been given is any good, but when you have guys like John Wright, myself, John Bracewell, Andy Moles, Martin Crowe and Richard Hadlee involved, you'd suggest we know a thing or two about it.

"The reality is you have to learn quickly over there, but there are basic fundamentals of playing spin."

Greatbatch, who is being used by Central Districts for a training session on playing spin bowling this week, said batsmen needed to work on judging length first, and looking to get forward as often as they could.

"I'm not saying they have to go forward, but they have to look to; it's easier to go back from there if you need to, but going forward once you've gone back is much harder."

The tourists travelled to Bengaluru yesterday as they try to conjure a way of improving against Ravichandran Ashwin in Friday's second test. The towering off-spinner took 12-85 in Hyderabad as New Zealand were dismissed for a combined 313 in 141 overs.

Kane Williamson was the pick of an average crop in Hyderabad, and admitted he would go against years of domestic coaching in his second test approach.

The No 3 batted 311 minutes and said the biggest lesson learned was from the Indian batsmen. And it was a seemingly unorthodox one.

"One thing that's been quite clear is, growing up in New Zealand we've been taught to hit with the spin whereas their players tend to bat the other way and hit back into the spin," Williamson said.

"It's quite a change but it's something they all look to do, so it's quite a clear difference and something that our batsmen are looking at as potential options."

Williamson explained it wasn't just recklessly hitting against the turning delivery, but getting into good position.

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"It's about giving yourself a bit more room in terms of where you bat so you have that option rather than the ball always spinning into your pads and getting caught up."

Captain Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill were both removed prodding forward to bat-pad catches in the first innings, then offered no shot in their second innings dismissals. Daniel Flynn will also need to review his technique after twice being trapped lbw attempting sweep shots.

But Williamson disagreed his team-mates were gun-shy against spin.

"It's important that each batsman has a clear message so we go out and have that confidence to play the shots that we feel are required and spend a lot of time out there and enjoy the challenge of it. It's not easy, seeing as it's something we're not faced with a lot."

Meanwhile, former fast bowler Shane Bond looms as an obvious frontrunner for the job of New Zealand bowling coach after Damien Wright stepped down yesterday. The Australian, appointed in July 2011, will end his stint after next month's World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, citing time away from his family as the main reason.

Bond has worked with Central Districts and also mentored a group of promising fast bowlers in recent years. NZ Cricket will advertise the role this week.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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