Examine the facts before laying blame

JOSEPH ROMANOS
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2013

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OPINION: What an incredible over-reaction there was after New Zealand were bowled out for 45 by South Africa in the first cricket test at Cape Town.

To read the opinions of some cricket writers, and to listen to some contributors to radio talkback, the low score was proof that New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White should resign. And board chairman Chris Moller. The whole board, in fact. Coach Mike Hesson, too.

Apparently, because there is not enough cricket knowledge on the board, our players couldn't score runs in the first innings of a test in South Africa. How then to explain the much-improved second innings?

It was illogical criticism, but because the collapse followed so closely on the disgraceful treatment of former captain Ross Taylor, it gained some momentum.

The two issues are separate.

White and Hesson were very culpable in the Taylor saga, and Moller handled things poorly, too. You really wonder if any of them are up to their jobs.

But that has little to do with the fact that our test batsmen were not able to foot it in the face of some superb bowling by Vernon Philander, especially, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

That is the same attack that in November 2011 had Australia 21-9, it should be noted.

The truth was that their bowlers were brilliant. Except for James Franklin, there wasn't really one New Zealand frontline batsman who got out to a poor stroke.

Philander reminded me of Richard Hadlee in his pomp, with sharpish pace, pinpoint accuracy and moving the ball just enough to make the batsmen uncomfortable. Steyn and Morkel were quick and right on target.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum's decision to bat first was ill-advised, as he would now concede, but to attribute the low score merely to poor batting (or "spineless", "gutless" or any of the other adjectives used) is to miss the point.

It's interesting that New Zealand's lowest score in test cricket, 26, was scored in 1955 against Frank Tyson, Brian Statham, Bob Appleyard and Johnny Wardle, four greats. Trevor Bailey wasn't even needed!

Our second-lowest score, 42, was made against the truly formidable 1946 Australian attack of Ray Lindwall, Ernie Toshack and Bill O'Reilly. Keith Miller and Colin McCool were not required.

Sometimes you just have to face the fact that it's not the board's fault, or the coach's, but simply that your batsmen aren't nearly as good as their bowlers.

Without Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder, this is an unimpressive New Zealand batting lineup, one of the weakest on the world circuit.

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The South African pace attack is among the best in history, and they were having a really good day. Even a New Zealand batting lineup of Sutcliffe, Turner, Jones, Crowe, Reid (JR) and Donnelly would have struggled.

It was like a war with nuclear weapons on one side and bows and arrows on the other. That's the sum of it. It wasn't a "day of shame", or "our blackest day".

If you're going to support the New Zealand cricket team, you need to realise they aren't the All Blacks. They're not stacked with talent and sometimes they are going to be outgunned.

This was one of those times.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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