More of the same needed from Black Caps

JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2012

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OPINION: You can imagine medical centres run off their feet yesterday as scores of cricket followers wandered in wanting their eyes tested.

"Doc, I think I saw the Black Caps win abroad."

"Never mind, take two of these and you'll be fine by the morning."

More accustomed to flashes of brilliance than sustained quality, cricket folk could be excused for seeking any kind of medical consultation.

Seven days earlier the national side had been hammered so badly by the same Sri Lankan outfit that the chairman of the board was talking of setting up a review committee.

It was not completely unexpected that Ross Taylor's men would turn in a better performance than the tripe dished up in Galle. It seems to take something just short of a public flogging for the side to show the necessary application and play to its potential.

You only have to hark back two months to when New Zealand were thumped by India first-up in Hyderabad, only to respond strongly in Bangalore.

So the challenge for New Zealand is clear and obvious if they want to be taken seriously and have people cramming at the turnstiles this summer - and by that I mean to get in.

Front up in South Africa in just over a month and show the same desperation and determination with the bat and consistency with the ball that was displayed in Colombo.

And if New Zealand do go down to South Africa, then go down fighting.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this test win has been the mature reaction from the camp itself. It must have been tempting to chide their critics, but test standouts Taylor and Tim Southee avoided that course of action.

Taylor's situation is intriguing. His reputation is intact after a double of 142 and 74, but for this team to advance, the captaincy roles should be split.

Taylor captained strongly these last few days but the fast-moving limited overs games catch him on the hop and seem a nice fit for the sharp tactical mind of Brendon McCullum.

Quite rightly, much of the kudos for New Zealand breaking their 14-year test drought in Sri Lanka and for winning their first test in 12 months, has been heaped on the two Northern Districts pacemen, Southee and Trent Boult.

They took 15 of the 20 wickets to fall and bowled with the sort of consistency and penetration we have not seen for quite a few years. When they had the new ball in their hand, you expected a wicket rather than hoped for it.

For years Southee has enjoyed a sledge more than a scalp but this series has been notable for him getting back to his mark and bustling back in. Perhaps the arrival of Shane Bond has something to do with a change in mindset.

Boult has a big wicket day ahead of him. His rewards have not come yet but you have to be impressed by his pace, control and concentration levels.

A lot of other factors went into this victory, brilliant behind-the-wicket catching and Kane Williamson's return to form to mention a couple.

Newcomer Todd Astle gets a pass mark. On the surface his inclusion ahead of the more talented James Franklin looked a flawed selection but Astle featured in a good stand with Taylor and wheeled down some serviceable leg spin. First impressions are that he is a little slow through the air but at least he's off to a winning start.

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