NZ batsmen show a lack of class

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 14:19 18/03/2012

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OPINION: Disappointing. That is the word that sprang to mind after watching the Black Caps crumble to a nine-wicket test defeat inside 2 1/2 days at Seddon Park in Hamilton yesterday.

While the South Africans are undoubtedly a world-class side, that the New Zealanders were bowled out, not once but twice, for two scores under 200 was simply not good enough.

And with the third and final test set to start in Wellington on Friday, it's also a cause for major concern.

The Black Caps essentially have five days to work out how they are going to turn things around in time to put up a decent fight at the Basin Reserve.

Coach John Wright at this very instant must be asking himself: where to from here?

It's a good question without many answers at this point and he won't be alone in wondering how the Black Caps can possibly recover after such a disappointing performance.

A step in the right direction would be to overhaul the batting order.

I think it's fair to say that Rob Nicol - in 10 innings against the South Africans this summer - has shown he's not up to opening the batting.

With a highest score of , it doesn't look like he's going to cut it against quality international bowling attacks.

Yes, he performed well against Zimbabwe but against a classier opponent he's been found out.

He needs to go and the time has come for Brendon McCullum to return to the top of the order and open the batting with Martin Guptill.

He may not want or like the job but it's clear in my book that he's the best man for it.

Kane Williamson, who batted superbly yesterday and showed real guts while his team-mates tumbled around him, also needs to be promoted to No 3.

That's where he's going to bat for this side eventually so why not make the change now? I have no doubts that he's up to the task.

Ross Taylor should stay at No 4 in the order and if Dean Brownlie gets through his side's Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts, which starts today, he should be rushed straight back in at No 5.

If, however, he's still not fit, Daniel Flynn of Northern Districts has done enough at domestic level to warrant a recall.

Undoubtedly, given the performance in Hamilton, the New Zealanders are going to be hammered from pillar to post on the talkback radio waves today.

But we should actually take a step back and analyse things rationally.

Their batting performances weren't good enough but they weren't truly awful either.

A number of key individuals made starts and the difference between being competitive and failing came down to the fact they weren't able to kick on and get hundreds.

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If they can perform just that little bit better in Wellington, we could see a more competitive result.

As for Hamilton, the pitch was also difficult and made runs hard to come by for both sides.

It shouldn't be used as an excuse, mind you.

On a positive note, the New Zealanders did bowl well and heading into the final test of the summer shouldn't make wholesale changes to their attack.

Their plan to select four seamers and Daniel Vettori is spot-on, even if at least one of the individuals they picked for the second test wasn't.

I still can't get my head around why Brent Arnel got the nod to play and, for that matter, why Trent Boult was dropped.

This Friday, I expect that selection decision to be reversed because Arnel, despite his best efforts, wasn't up to it.

Boult, on the other hand, bowled well in Dunedin and really didn't deserve to be punted.

As they say, to win a test match you need to be able to take 20 wickets. This New Zealand side is capable of that.

Now it's just a case of scoring more than a couple of hundred runs.

Simon Doull is a former Black Cap

- © Fairfax NZ News

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