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Another Black Caps defeat, but does anyone care?

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 12/11/2012
Brendon McCullum
Reuters
BEST OF THE BUNCH: Brendon McCullum's 30 was the best of a bad bunch for the Black Caps.

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OPINION: On a good day, limited overs cricket can provide some entertaining, even exhilarating contests.

Sadly, none have appeared during New Zealand's wretched tour of Sri Lanka. Rain reared its head again in the fourth one-day international at Hambantota, won by the hosts by seven wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method.

The banality of short-form cricket has scarcely been better illustrated than by this series. The Black Caps made 131-8 in 32 overs early yesterday morning, having been inserted, before Sri Lanka chased down their revised target of 131 in 26.2 overs.

New Zealand's innings was played in two parts, due to the rain, and luck didn't always run with them. But there was still too much poor cricket.

Unfortunately the most troubling aspect of these continued defeats is that it's difficult to care.

There's nothing on these games, the outcomes are completely loaded in favour of the chasing team and the standard of play isn't hugely high. It's hard enough to stave off sleep when a match is being played in the middle of the night (NZ time) but virtually impossible when the Black Caps make Sri Lanka's bowlers look so unplayable.

One-day cricket is about runs, but they continue to elude this New Zealand team. Brendon McCullum, with 30, was the Black Caps' top-scorer and, across the series, only two New Zealand batsmen Rob Nicol and B J Watling (twice) have passed 50.

The word out of the Black Caps' camp is that they've never been better prepared. Coach Mike Hesson has brought an attention to detail and scouting ability that is completely new to New Zealand teams.

But that's not been borne out by results. In the 11 matches since Hesson took control of the team, nine have been lost.

There were also defeats to Australia and South Africa in the two warmup matches the team played before the Twenty20 World Cup.

It's an unenviable record, but one the public has become accustomed to.

Mercifully, the one-day portion of this tour ends tonight, with the fifth match which starts at 10pm (NZ time).

"We've just got to stick together and put a performance together worthy of the New Zealand cricket team," Black Caps captain Ross Taylor said.

Unfortunately, heavy and repeated defeats are the only expectation fans currently have of this side, who still have two test matches to negotiate on this tour.

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- Wellington

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