The appalling incompetence of the New Zealand cricketers in South Africa has sent many a historian scurrying for the record books for points of comparison. An obvious parallel is the 26 glorious runs scored by the 1955 national side against the visiting English, a total 19 shy of the 45 achieved against Philander, Steyn and company.
In some ways worse were the 42 and 54 amassed against the 1946 Australians. To put the 2013 Black Caps in meaningful perspective their second test result against South Africa was an innings defeat 90 runs worse than that achieved by their post-war equivalents. After the 1946 game Australia refused to play us again for 27 years. You could hardly blame the Proteas if they did the same and declined all further mismatches for at least a couple of decades.
When it comes to truly appreciating the calibre of our batsmen it is useful to look back to 19th century club and regional cricket, to an era of uncovered pitches and amateur skill sets. In early January of 1887 the Waikato Times reported on the first match of the season between Cambridge and Hamilton, a game in which the scorelines are somewhat reminiscent of those in South Africa.
Much like the Black Caps, Cambridge were missing two or three of their best players. Much like Brendan McCullum's ill-fated decision in the first test, they decided to bat first after winning the toss. Much like the national team Cambridge were all out before lunch, though a score of 48 marginally exceeds what New Zealand were capable of.
In both games only one player managed to get to double figures, with Kane Williamson's imperious knock of 13 at first drop a single run better than the efforts of Mr F Gaudin. However, Gaudin scored his 12 batting at number 11. It is difficult to imagine Chris Martin or the now equally woeful Jeetan Patel wagging the tail from like position.
In reply Hamilton lost their opener with the first ball he faced, a result worthy of the latest Black Cap batting genius unearthed on tour, Colin Munro.
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