New Zealand coach Mike Hesson can't fault his players' work ethic but says their inability to cope with the extreme pressure from South Africa was the cause of another awful batting collapse.
Hesson's side limped to stumps on 47-6 in reply to South Africa's first innings of 525-8 declared, on day two of the second test.
"Certainly it was a very disappointing 24 overs. We prepared pretty well and we knew what we were going to be confronted with but the most disappointing thing is when we got under pressure we weren't able to cope," Hesson said.
"We spent five sessions out there so we knew what [conditions] were like. We knew the new ball would bounce and it did and obviously [Dale] Steyn, [Morne] Morkel and [Rory] Kleinveldt bowled superbly well and put us under pressure and we didn't respond."
Hesson said the sustained pressure of the South African pacemen, in terms of their pace and bounce, was exposing his players' techniques.
He insisted they were well prepared, though, after suffering an innings and 27 run defeat in Cape Town in which they were dismissed for 45.
"We train hard, we train for bounce and swing and we ramp the machine up and we get the ball coming at good pace and we challenge our guys. We've got to do that more at trainings."
Asked if he began to doubt himself, Hesson said: "All of us start to challenge whether we're doing the right things and whether we're challenging the players in the right ways. But, like I said, I certainly can't fault the work ethic of the players at the moment."
Hesson was asked if he had a message for cricket followers back in New Zealand who would be waking to reports of another dire collapse.
He said: "South Africa is a very tough place to tour. They're the world No 1 side for a reason. They replaced [Vernon] Philander with Kleinveldt, another high-class bowler. At the moment we're ranked eighth in the world for a reason. We're struggling. But the players are working extremely hard to get better.
"After the last test when we were completely outplayed we could have put our feet up and gone 'oh well tomorrow is another day'. But the guys know we're nowhere near where we need to be and they're willing to put the work in, and the support staff have got to act around them and assist them.
"All we can say to the people back home is that the players are trying their very best and at the moment we're just being outclassed."
New Zealand's bowlers were only able to apply occasional pressure to South Africa's crack batting lineup, then they received a lesson.
"As a bowling unit they're by far the best in the world at the moment and they're ruthless, they smell a bit of blood and they come hard at us."
South African batsman Faf du Plessis, one of three centurymakers, said he expected more from New Zealand's batsmen.
"I thought that it would be a different story coming to PE just because the conditions here are generally a bit slower and there's not as much bounce," du Plessis said.
"But there was a lot of swing on offer and when Dale Steyn gets a bit of swing he's very, very hard to face. I can understand it was tough for them. I was standing there at slip and saying I was lucky I didn't have to face these bowlers because they were bowling really well.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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