Questions to be asked of Black Caps - again
New Zealand Cricket boss David White is promising a hard-hitting review of the national team's abject showing in Sri Lanka, saying "everyone is accountable".
White was on the phone yesterday to Black Caps coach Mike Hesson and NZC's director of cricket, John Buchanan, in Sri Lanka after the side's 10-wicket defeat inside three days in the first test in Galle.
"It was extremely disappointing and I understand the anger and frustration from the fans. What was particularly concerning was the lack of resistance that we showed after a good performance with the ball the day before," White said of New Zealand's batting collapse to 118 all out in their second innings, after gaining parity in the first two days.
White wasn't moved to any knee-jerk reactions from Auckland, with the second and final test starting in Colombo on Sunday, but said the usual post-tour review with Hesson, Buchanan and others would be wide-ranging at the end of next week. It gets even tougher for the Black Caps, too, with a tour of South Africa looming in mid-December.
"We need to have a serious look at our next steps moving forward to address the string of poor performances," White said.
"Everyone is accountable from the CEO through to the cricketing staff to the players. Collectively we've got to address it."
Despite being a former test opener, White wouldn't get involved in the inner workings of the team while they were on tour. But he remained comfortable with the coaching personnel of Hesson, Bob Carter and Shane Bond.
Hesson labelled his team's Monday efforts "very poor". They had begun day three on an even keel with the hosts and the situation was "a batsman's dream".
The tourists' dressing room was sombre on Monday night.
"It was extreme disappointment and there's a number of people in the dressing room where that's happened on many occasions. There's a real level of frustration there," Hesson said.
"We've got to get that steely resolve back, where if we get ourselves three or four down quickly that we don't roll over. That's a big issue for us and one we haven't been able to find answers for yet."
Captain Ross Taylor cut a forlorn figure as he explained away the defeat.
Asked about increasing speculation that Taylor was considering handing over the limited overs captaincy to Brendon McCullum after this tour, Hesson said: "We're right in the middle of a test series at the moment. We're all under plenty of pressure and yesterday wasn't acceptable. We'll have to do a thorough review at the end of this tour and I'm sure we'll get asked some pretty tough questions by NZC and rightfully so."
For now, the tough questions will be asked in the nets ahead of the second test at P Saravanamuttu Stadium, scene of Stephen Fleming's epic 274 not out in 2003.
Hesson hinted there would be minimal changes for Colombo and wanted to give the batsmen a chance to make amends, as they did to an extent between the first and second tests in India in August.
"Technically we're able to stand up in the nets. Admittedly Rangana Herath's not bowling at us. We tend to find a method that every individual is confident with, but it's players having the confidence to get out in the middle and implement that, which is something we struggled with in this test."
James Franklin would be the most endangered of the batsmen, but it's debatable whether Rob Nicol or Todd Astle provide a stronger option at No 6. In the bowling ranks, Doug Bracewell battled cramps during his poor bowling performance and may be under threat from Neil Wagner or Chris Martin. Leg-spinner Astle would probably only be considered if the pitch promised to be a raging turner.
Tim Southee, the standout New Zealand performer in Galle, didn't bowl in Sri Lanka's chase for 93 due to a groin strain. It was precautionary and Hesson said Southee was a likely starter in Colombo.
AT A GLANCE
New Zealand's last five test results: Lost to Sri Lanka by 10 wickets, Galle Lost to India by 5 wickets, Bangalore Lost to India by an innings and 115 runs, Hyderabad Lost to West Indies by 5 wickets, Kingston Lost to West Indies by 9 wickets, Antigua
The Dominion Post