Martin Guptill may move down the order as New Zealand seek
a better start from their batsmen in the second test
against South Africa. Photo Getty
Life is about to get more uncomfortable for New Zealand's
beleaguered batting group in South Africa.
Coming off the humiliation of their first innings 45 in the
opening test at Newlands, coach Mike Hesson is determined to
spice up training to replicate the heat they'll face at the
start of the second test in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
New Zealand's batsmen were cruelly exposed by South Africa's
champion pace trio of Dale Steyn, man of the match Vernon
Philander and Morne Morkel in the first test.
The trio took 16 of the 20 New Zealand wickets to fall in the
match and put the batsmen through hoops en route to an
innings and 27-run win.
"It's not that our trainings aren't intense, but they are
certainly at a lower intensity that what we're going to face
in the second test," Hesson said yesterday.
The practice pitches out the back of the ground are bouncy
enough to provide a good test and among ploys being
considered are having the faster bowlers coming in from a
couple of metres closer to the batsmen to raise the speed,
and cranking up the bowling machines.
"It's a matter of feeling challenged, feeling uncomfortable
and then working out some ways to cope with it," Hesson
added. "More bouncers, a more hostile approach from our
bowlers - which is what we need - and ultimately will help
The bowling machines could also help "get themselves to the
level of anxiety they are going to face out there", Hesson
Changes to the batting order, if not the personnel, would
also be on the agenda for the team management.
Opener Martin Guptill, an outstanding batsman in the white
ball games, is battling at test level. He was cut down by
Steyn and Philander in making 1 and 0 in the first test.
The top three of Guptill, captain Brendon McCullum and Kane
Williamson have been intact for the last five tests.
In that time, No 3 Williamson has been walking out to the
middle with the totals at 25, 26, 0, 30, 29, 18, 4, 32, 7 and
0. Guptill has made 128 runs at an average of 12.8 over that
The only spare batsman on tour is Auckland newcomer Colin
Munro, a middle-order player. Hesson effectively joined
McCullum in saying the six would be given a chance to redeem
themselves in Port Elizabeth.
However, Hesson said twiddling with the order is not out of
the question. "Martin's a fine player. He's done very well at
times but when the ball swings at the top you've got to be
very strong in your decision-making. If you make a minor
error, you can be exposed.
"Opening batsmen go through little periods where they don't
quite nail it. Certainly we're confident Martin is a good
enough player to get past that."
One alternative is promoting wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who has
opened in tests, to the top and shunting Guptill into the
middle order. But Watling's hands are full with the gloves as
"We've shown some real continuity there and it would be nice
to continue that, but certainly we need to see some
improvements," Hesson said.
"That's a tough ask up top and certainly against an attack
- David Leggat