Five successive test losses; is it time
to throw the hands up and acknowledge New Zealand's current
players simply aren't much chop?
The hard evidence shows the depth of the hole New Zealand are
in, and South Africa, on their turf, and England at home -
world's No1 and 2 at present - are next up for this
The abject capitulation on the third morning of the opening
international against Sri Lanka at Galle this week again
raised questions over both the technical and mental capacity
of New Zealand's batsmen.
The bowlers, led by Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who strove
to get New Zealand back into the match after a lame first
innings batting effort, effectively had their efforts thrown
back in their faces.
In one sense, the fact Sri Lanka's openers Thuranga
Paranvitana and debutant Dinuth Karunaratne eased to the
target of 93 in 18.3 overs without loss was a good thing.
It removed the excuse-in-waiting that the pitch was overly
There were no escape routes for batsmen who simply hadn't a
clue against good quality spin - and at times seam bowling -
on a pitch that was far from mischief-making.
Lord, it was dispiriting viewing. How many ways can
international batsmen find to get out? New Zealand's group
deserved full marks for giving it a decent crack.
Should fans just accept that the best players in the country
- and there are precious few names back home who could be put
forward as players who should be out there - are not up to
The manner in which the wickets fell certainly didn't suggest
a team plan to sell their wickets with any sort of
desperation. You wonder how much they hurt about it all. Even
their own chief executive is questioning the ease with which
the batsmen slid down the drain on Monday night.
At least we've not heard the infuriating old "that's just the
way he plays" line this time.
Change for the second test later this week in Colombo?
The two most vulnerable are James Franklin and Doug
Bracewell. Franklin, good limited-overs player but a
passenger in Galle, has to go; the promising Bracewell is
skating a fine line with 10 wickets in the five losses
costing 53.8 apiece.
Replacements? Rob Nicol, found sorely wanting against South
Africa in his two tests this year, or legspinning allrounder
Todd Astle, on his first trip, for Franklin; Astle or veteran
Chris Martin for Bracewell.
Any alterations seem superficial - the problems are far
deeper than merely moving the deckchairs.
- By David Leggatt of the New Zealand Herald