It might look bad for the Black Caps following their
fifth-straight test loss but there is one positive according
to a former player - only the batting needs major
New Zealand were bundled out for 118 on their way to a
10-wicket defeat in the first test to Sri Lanka overnight.
Former New Zealand allrounder Dion Nash said the batting
display was well below what is expected in test cricket and
the New Zealand top order "don't have the skills" to compete
at the moment.
"It's disappointing and I think there is the temptation to
put it in the light of the failures, if you like, that have
happened in the last two or three months," he said. "It's
obviously a batter failure and an inability to adjust to
quite difficult conditions and some good bowling. I thought
our bowling was pretty exceptional.
"I think they don't have the skills at the moment.
Fundamentally, it's a tough job to bat in that top five. It
isn't easy to play and succeed in those positions.
International cricket is tough and test cricket is the
toughest version of it.
"It isn't easy but, unfortunately ,we've just been found
wanting too readily. The guys collectively one-through-six
need to just decide that they're going to score hundreds and
find a way to do it. It's just as simple as that."
New Zealand began day three with a one-run lead and nine
wickets in hand only to lose seven wickets in the opening
session with none of their top five passing 20. Sri Lanka
chased down the 93 needed with 10 wickets in hand.
The defeat is the Black Caps' sixth of the year along with a
sole victory over Zimbabwe in 2012 with two draws coming from
their other two tests.
A telling sign of the lack of victories is in the batting
where the team has only past the 300-mark three times in 17
innings - while they have been bowled out for less than 200
six times, including last night's 118.
Nash said the New Zealand top five batsmen are consistently
scoring 150 runs shy of what they should but wouldn't
recommend changing the current lineup. He said the players in
the side just need to adjust their mental application.
"You might make an argument of who is batting where in the
order but, fundamentally, I think we've got the right six
guys ... they just have to find a way to score the runs.
"If Mark Richardson who was effectively a bowler who batted
10 can turn himself over the course of his career into an
international class opening batsman through application and
strong mental application and practice - it sort of tells us
really that that's what's required.
"It's about thinking smart and adapting, having a bit of
gumption and a little bit of luck now and then as well.
That's the one piece of the puzzle that's missing and sort of
needs to fall into place if we are to succeed."
On the other end of the scale Nash, who took 93 test wickets
in 32 matches, had praise for New Zealand's bowlers,
especially Trent Boult who took 2-46 in Sri Lanka's first
"To bowl out a side of the quality of Sri Lanka in their own
conditions, I thought it said something about the seamers,
particularly Southee and Boult. But also Patel I thought he
bowled really well as well. There's some really good times
from a bowling perspective.
"At the moment Boult's bowling without much luck. He's going
to have his day when it all comes in. He's going to have a
month or two of being fantastic. You can see it. It's
imminent. And Southee is continuing to improve. He bowls with
spirit and heart. Bracewell is a little bit off the pace at
the moment but he'll bounce back."
The second test begins in Colombo on Sunday evening (NZT).
- By Cameron McMillan of nzherald.co.nz