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November 24, 2008
The New Zealand coach John Bracewell has no plans to alter his "starstruck" batting order and will not be rushed into changing a line-up he hopes will eventually become an international force. Runs were a severe problem for the tourists after they challenged Australia for the opening two days of the first Test before tumbling to a 149-run defeat.
Totals of 156 and 177 led to a loss inside ten sessions but Bracewell is content with his side for the second Test in Adelaide from Friday. The batting order contains only one player, Brendon McCullum, who has appeared in more than 20 Tests and the team management is happy for the line-up to learn on the job.
"It's been going on for a while now," Bracewell said of the batting problems. "I keep putting it down to experience and we're still reasonably inexperienced. Most of these guys have had limited first-class careers and been picked on their talent and potential. I believe their talent and potential is enormous when we get enough Test matches into them."
The problem for New Zealand is they are already using the best in the country so they have few options except to hope the unit, which includes the highly talented Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor, develops into one that is capable of lifting the side. If New Zealand lose the second Test they will slip to eighth on the rankings, below West Indies and above Bangladesh.
Ryder, an attacking No. 3, will remain there after looking reasonably comfortable during short innings of 30 and 24 - Australia will continue to attack him outside off stump - and McCullum is unlikely to be moved from No. 5 despite two failures. Bracewell does not want to bow to the populist demand for McCullum to drop back to seven and is pleased with the development of Daniel Flynn, who is a long-term project at six.
"The more experience we get in to them, the better they will become," Bracewell said. "I have no doubt they will get better. When they gather enough experience they will become a world force."
There are players in the side who are so fresh that they are in awe of playing against Australia and on the Test grounds in Brisbane and Adelaide. "A lot of our guys are still a little bit starstruck," Bracewell said. "We were talking about it the other day, the opportunity to play at Adelaide. A lot of them go 'wow'.
"They've done the same thing over the last couple of years. A lot of these guys are in positions where they see this as just a wonderful adventure. We need to step up and see ourselves as world class in order to become world class."
New Zealand are in this situation because of the departure of a group of senior players, including the former captain Stephen Fleming, to the Twenty20 competitions in India. The captain Daniel Vettori said before the first Test Shane Bond was the only player involved in the new events who would demand selection, but Bracewell felt there were people who left too early.
"Everybody has to regenerate at some point," he said. "If you look at the history of the side that has actually moved on they were all around the same age, they all grew up together ... and they all got to the point where they started to have families and were looking for other commercial - perhaps easier - commitments than the hard slog of international cricket. It's a lot easier to go to ICL and get the big bucks for six weeks."
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