Black Caps need drastic improvement and quick

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2012
Colin Munro
Getty Images
BRIGHT SPOT: Rookie Colin Munro was the only player batsman to deliver anything of substance.

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OPINION: The Black Caps will need to temper their approach in tomorrow's rematch with the Proteas in East London or the Twenty20 series will be gone.

After everything that has been swirling around them over the last few weeks, the Black Caps' response was very disappointing.

The eight-wicket loss in the series opener in Durban was marred by some very poor batting and sloppy fielding.

The T20s appeared to be the team's best chance of putting on a good show. But Mike Hesson's team were comprehensively outplayed in every department.

The batting never got going to post a paltry 86, the bowlers never had anything to defend and they weren't helped by some ugly misfielding. That was unacceptable because fielding is one area of the game you should be able to control.

Given the mix of the new-look team, this was a game where the senior players needed to step up and show the new players the way, allowing them to ease into this environment a bit.

That never happened from the moment Brendon McCullum won the toss and decided to bat.

In the end, rookie Colin Munro was the only batsman to deliver anything of substance. He's been in good form for Auckland and has carried that into the international environment, backing up yesterday after top-scoring against the South Africa n XI earlier in the week.

It was the rash shots which led to so many dismissals that were so disappointing.

It wasn't difficult to see what the Black Caps were trying to do - be positive, be aggressive and attempt to take the game to the Proteas.

But you also need to be mindful of the conditions and the opposition.

It looked like a 130-run wicket but the Black Caps were playing like it was a 170-run pitch. And the sorry reality is they ended up with half that much.

The reliance on playing big shots was alarming. The lack of interest in looking for singles was puzzling.

Singles can be just as important as boundaries in T20s. History will show that the team with the fewest dot balls on their batting scorecard usually wins games.

This is something the Black Caps have to work on very quickly.

Surely the Black Caps can't play this poorly again. Or can they?

Usually you only need one or two players to really play well and you're looking at a total of 130-140 which can be competitive.

The Black Caps will need that - and probably more - tomorrow (5am NZ time).

The adjustments need to come technically, too. It's clear there is going to be more bounce and pace in the South African wickets.

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It's equally clear the Proteas see this is to their advantage. Their philosophy is to use good, fast bowling with plenty of short-pitches deliveries aimed at exploiting what they see as a Kiwi weakness.

It's hard to drag many positives out of yesterday's limp effort.

But like Munro was with the bat, his Auckland team mate Mitchell McClenaghan showed some promise with the new ball.

Likwise he backed up his good effort against the second string South African side to genuinely trouble the Proteas with his pace and accuracy.

There were also some pleasing signs from spinners Nathan McCullum and Ronnie Hira. But the reality was they were on a hiding to nothing.

Given the lack of runs, new skipper Brendon McCullum had to keep his attacking fields up and this will have given the new players a taste of that situation. But it was all too brief.

The Black Caps will be desperate to get Martin Guptill back at the top of the batting order after he missed yesterday's thrashing with a stomach bug.

With no Ross Taylor or Jesse Ryder, New Zealand can't afford to be without Guptill.

Looking further ahead, the loss of Tim Southee from the test bowling attack is another huge blow to New Zealand. He's been the spearhead of the attack and his growing combination with Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell has been very promising.

It will be interesting to see how Hesson responds. Does he go back to veteran Chris Martin's experience or does he look at younger players?

- Simon Doull is a former Black Cap

- Sunday News

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