Changes to Black Caps needed to lift gloom

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 11:09 06/01/2013
Brendon McCullum
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WATCH OUT: Brendon McCullum and the Black Caps will be looking to keep out of the way of more South African bouncers in the second test.

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OPINION: The Black Caps need to make some changes for the second test against South Africa as they desperately look to get some improvement going on the back of their first test disaster.

There aren't too many options open to improving the batting woes that cost them so dearly in Cape Town.

But Colin Munro is available and he's got form. I'd have him in the mix instead of allrounder James Franklin.

Franklin did little with the bat at Newlands and not much as the fourth seamer either.

Munro has been hitting the ball sweetly all summer and he does have the ability to operate as a right-arm seamer. Under the circumstances I think there's little to lose in giving Munro a go.

The same can be said of his Auckland Aces team-mate Bruce Martin. His left-arm spin, moving the ball away from the predominantly right-handed South African batsmen, looks a good alternative to Jeetan Patel's off-spin.

Patel is OK as a test player - but just OK and no more. He's not going to spin an opposition out and in Cape Town he didn't provide a containing job either. So why not look to Martin who will be a bit of a mystery to the Proteas?

I'd also be opting for another pace bowler instead of Chris Martin.

The veteran is down on his speed these days and while he collected three South African wickets they came when the slog was on. They weren't the quality wickets we've become used to seeing him take at the top of the order.

Either Neil Wagner or Mitchell McClenaghan is more than capable of stepping up. Both are left- armers and while McClenaghan offers a yard more of pace, Wagner has a bit more experience. Either bowler would be fizzing to get a crack.

New Zealand need an attacking side to try and get something back in Port Elizabeth.

It would be a huge achievement to rebound and beat the Proteas. Realistically, I think everyone would simply want to see a bit of improvement. That's all we can ask for.

The one pleasing thing about the Cape Town debacle was that the Black Caps got better as the test went on.

But let's face it, they couldn't get any worse than that opening session.

That will remain a dark day that will haunt these players and management for the rest of their careers.

To be dismissed for just 45 before lunch on the opening day meant New Zealand were never going to come back and they slumped to an innings loss, their sixth defeat in their last seven tests.

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The Black Caps have regularly let themselves down over the last two or three years by having horror sessions where they have lost six or seven wickets for 40-60 runs. But this total collapse was something of a different proportion altogether.

We need to give credit to the South African bowlers who were spot-on. But there were still major deficiencies from the Black Caps batsmen.

The first day was further complicated by poor bowling and sloppy fielding. Basically, it was a day they'll want to forget but will never be allowed to.

The pleasing thing was the way the Black Caps responded on the second day. The bowlers operated with control and purpose and New Zealand's shift in attitude and performance was confirmed by some better batting in the second innings, highlighted by Dean Brownlie's fighting century.

Brendon McCullum set the tone with a solid knock at the top of the order and there was much to commend in B J Watling's gritty effort.

It was a pity New Zealand couldn't make South Africa bat again just for a bit more of a confidence boost.

Brownlie probably needed to go on and make a really big century for that to happen and that's what will be required in Port Elizabeth if the Black Caps are to be competitive.

A big ton and a couple of 70s or 80s are going to get you past the 400-mark and keep you in the game from the word go.

But full marks to Brownlie. I liked the way he changed his game from day two to the third day. He had been aggressive, almost cavalier, with his initial approach but he looked more and more like a test batsman as his innings went on.

He's come back from the disappointment of being dropped. He's improved his batting against spin, although there is more to be done; and generally just put his head down and worked hard at getting better.

The whole Black Caps side needs to do something similar and make the most of this extra time off by working hard in the nets before trying to save face in Port Elizabeth.

Simon Doull is a former Black Cap

- © Fairfax NZ News

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