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Coming off the long run: Black Caps just batty

AARON SPENCER
Last updated 09:12 20/09/2012
Brendon McCullum
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NOT HAPPY: Brendon McCullum walks off after being given out in the first test against India.

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The Black Caps tendency to over-analyse and grasp at the latest prevailing fad, thinking that they may stumble upon something useful, obscures their lack of application to the fundamentals of a relatively simple game.

The new mantra - following from last summer's four-pronged pace attack brought on by the triumph on the Hobart green-top - is ''play your strokes and be positive''.

Following New Zealand's 300+ first innings total in the second test against India, the talk from the camp is that New Zealand have found a new new blueprint for test match success.

At first glance, that may appear true but of the batsmen only Ross Taylor really succeeded in melding positive intent with the desired outcome; a significant score in excess of a century.

The other batsmen imploded in familiar fashion, and it was only some late-order application and old-fashioned grit from Kruger Van Wyk and Doug Bracewell that saw the score through to respectability.

When New Zealand came to bowl they did show plenty of aggression and, crucially, plenty of accuracy with it, and Tim Southee was well rewarded.

In the second innings the positive approach could not be judged to be a success. The failure was typified by James Franklin's reckless charge against spin when the match was in the balance.

As India accrued the remaining runs in their successful chase, Simon Doull lauded the Black Caps aggression and stated that their young bowlers would have learnt a lot and would be better equipped to achieve victory in their next outing.

Sourav Ganguly's accurate response was that the bowlers were not the problem: "Your batsmen let you down.'' It was a simple, common-sense summation.

Test cricket is played to an age-old formula: when batting, deny your opponents wickets, picking off the bad balls when they appear.

As the bowlers tire and the ball gets older, more scoring opportunities will appear and the opposition will be frustrated into errors. Patience will be rewarded and aggression can come into play.

But for now, talk of aggression despite the situation seems like being both desperation and a cop out.

It allows for the excuse of ''that's the way I play'' to over-come match awareness and the old-fashioned, but still very relevant, virtues of application and wearing the opposition down.

When the New Zealand batsmen get to grips with these simple truths, then they will undoubtedly succeed.

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Right now that bright future is looking a long way off.

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