Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hobart December 7, 2011

New Zealand bank on local knowledge

As New Zealand regroup following their loss at the Gabba, they can take comfort from one important fact. The second Test is at Bellerive Oval, and nobody has taken more first-class wickets at the venue than their bowling coach, Damien Wright.

In a 14-year first-class career, a decade of which was spent playing for Tasmania, Wright collected 127 victims in Hobart, at an average of 26.92. If anyone is qualified to preach on seam and swing bowling at the ground, it is Wright.

When he took on the job in July, Wright was looking forward to helping the New Zealanders understand Australian conditions, from how to play on the different venues to technical knowledge like how to keep the Kookaburra ball swinging all day. His first outing against the Australians was far from unsuccessful: it was the batting and fielding that let New Zealand down in Brisbane more than the bowling.

Now, they must adjust from the bouncier Gabba surface to Bellerive, where the ball tends to swing early, but life can become harder for bowlers as matches wear on. There are also breezes from the Derwent River to take into account, all of which the New Zealand fast men hope to learn about from Wright.

"It will change, in Brisbane there was a lot more bounce and carry," the fast bowler Tim Southee said on Wednesday. "We'll reassess and talk about it after training today. Damien Wright who played a lot of cricket down here will have his knowledge to pass on to us and hopefully we can learn from that.

"He's been great for us. He has played a lot in Australia and has a lot of experience and has played a lot of cricket. I've only had a few weeks with Damien. Now he has seen me bowl a bit so he has some things that we'll talk about today. He's got an exciting knowledge of cricket. We'll need that leading up to this Test."

New Zealand can also count history on their side as they aim to provide more fight than in Brisbane. They are the only side ever to deny Australia victory in Bellerive Oval Test matches - and they've done it twice. Rain played a part in both those draws, in 1997-98 and 2001-02, but it's a decent record all the same.

"By all accounts it's more like a New Zealand wicket," Southee said of Bellerive. It is certainly more so than the Gabba. Hobart is further south than Wellington and has a similar annual rainfall to Christchurch. It could hardly be a more familiar climate for the New Zealanders.

But in order to capitalise on that, they will need to grab their opportunities. New Zealand spilled four catches in Brisbane, all behind the wicket and all chances that should have been taken. The culprits were the wicketkeeper Reece Young and slip catchers Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder. Doug Bracewell also gave Michael Clarke a life by bowling him off a no-ball.

"No one means to drop catches but everyone drops catches at some point," Southee said. "We didn't have lot of luck with the ball. Obviously Dougie bowling Michael Clarke was a massive turning point. I'm sure he's working on that. Chris Martin bowled well and Doug bowled extremely well in periods. It was just very unlucky with those chances that went down.

"But we have a good fielding outfit and we were disappointed to let our standards slip. The guys set very high standards in the field. When things aren't going so well it's something we rely on to get us going. We've put in some hard work since Brisbane and I'm sure there'll be a lot of catching [practice] today and tomorrow."

All the bowlers can do is keep creating the chances.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments