OPINION: The Black Caps batsmen exceeded expectations for all the wrong reasons in the opening test against South Africa.
We knew they were bad, but few could have envisaged them being THIS bad.
The first innings disaster at Newlands represented total humiliation.
Dismissed for 45 in the first session was nothing less than feeble.
The only sign of confidence came with Brendon McCullum's decision to bat.
The aggressive attitude they showed to their detriment in the Twenty20 series loss continued with the toss and the strange move to put the pads on.
Up against the best bowling attack in the world, the Black Caps handed the Proteas' speedsters all the advantages the fresh wicket had to offer.
And they exploited the conditions magnificently, led by Vernon Philander. Under an injury cloud in the leadup to the match he proved virtually unplayable. At least that's how good the New Zealand batsmen made him look.
But given New Zealand's seriously weakened batting lineup with the stay-at-home Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder, why expose the batsmen to the South Africans from the outset?
The inevitable happened. But it happened embarrassingly swiftly.
Beaten for pace, undone by movement - the Black Caps batsmen had no answers whatsoever.
The vulnerability the New Zealand batsmen have shown to spin in the sub-continent in recent years has been instantly replaced by utter susceptibility to outright pace.
Never mind the lack of technique, the body language of the batsmen at Newlands was appalling. They were dismissals waiting to happen.
The Black Caps didn't help themselves in their selections either.
Dean Brownlie had no form going into this match because of illness yet was thrown into the crucial No 4 position and lasted three balls.
James Franklin's claims to being a test allrounder are non-existent.
The decision to include old warhorse Chris Martin in the bowling attack, meant the batting lineup was instantly reduced to 10 men.
Given the off-field ructions leading into the tour, this performance will only increase the attention on controversial coach Mike Hesson.
He made some huge calls going to cricket's toughest destination and they are haunting him even quicker than he might have imagined in his worst nightmares.
This is a shambles not seen since the 1940s and 1950s.
And it won't get any easier.
The Proteas are a ruthless outfit. They smelt blood early in this Cape Town test and never relented.
It will be just the same for every day the Black Caps are in the republic.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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