Black Caps not getting carried away
Is the Black Caps win over Sri Lanka a turning point for the side?
Test victories on foreign soil against frontline nations have never come around often for any New Zealand cricket team so this one intends to enjoy the moment, but captain Ross Taylor wisely insists they won't get too carried away.
Last night's 167-run boilover against Sri Lanka at the P Saravanamuttu stadium in Colombo, these days known as P Sara Oval, broke a 10-month, five-test losing streak, and came almost a year after New Zealand's memorable six-run triumph over Australia in Hobart.
Both wins came on the back of a hiding a week earlier, but the Hobart heroics were not backed up.
Taylor will be wary of making the same mistakes so perhaps it wasn't surprising that he mentioned the C-word - consistency - in his post-match press conference and talked about not getting carried away with one win.
Still, beating Sri Lanka in their conditions, with their impressive batting lineup and wily spin attack, to square the series 1-1 is worth celebrating, particularly after the rough time the New Zealanders have endured in 2012, with series losses to South Africa, West Indies and India, not to mention the 10-wicket first test hiding in Galle last week.
"It's one victory, we don't want to get too carried away, but we've got to enjoy the moment," was Taylor's initial response to the victory, sealed early in the final session of the fifth day when Sri Lanka were dismissed for 195, having started the day at 47-4.
"We played some very good cricket over the five days. Sri Lanka pushed us at times and we showed some good resistence when periods were tough.
"In periods in Galle when we were under pressure, we folded. In this game, when we were under pressure, different people stood up at different times and that's what happens in good teams.
"It was tough after losing so comprehensively in Galle but the way we trained and the way we prepared for this match and the way the players stepped up, every single one of them, it was a credit to them. We'll treasure this moment for a while.
"(But) we obviously need to be more consistent going forward."
Taylor said it was a "very happy" dressing room and he had particular praise for his three-pronged pace attack.
Taylor, with 142 and 74, may have been awarded the man-of-the-match award and his 262-run partnership with Kane Williamson (135) in the first innings was vital in setting up the win, but Tim Southee (8-120 in the match) and left armer Trent Boult (7-75) worked hard in trying conditions and were able to consistently swing both the new and older ball.
"I think the batsmen have got a lot of criticism over the time but we haven't really had the bowlers to get 20 wickets in some tests," Taylor said.
"But the three we've got at the moment, the three quicks, are very exciting and raw. I guess in test match cricket that's exciting.
"You've got to give credit to Tim Southee, he led the bowling lineup very well and Trent Boult has still only played a handful of games but he continues to improve every match. Even the two wickets that Doug Bracewell got in this innings were two crucial wickets, (Kumar) Sangakkara and (Mahela) Jayawardene can bat a couple of days if they want to."
Southee is peaking in 2012, more than four years after his test debut.
At the start of the year he was on the fringes and his average was unacceptably high in the mid-40s. He has brought that down to 35 and it will surely only get better. He's still only 23, the same age as Boult, who already has 26 wickets from eight tests.
It doesn't get easier for New Zealand with an away series against South Africa and a home date with England this summer, but they're in a much better place than they were a week ago and Taylor will be determined to ensure standards don't slip as they did so drastically post-Hobart.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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