March 24, 2002

Big task ahead of New Zealand to hold out for draw

Having been played right out of the second National Bank Test by England with both ball and bat, New Zealand face a big task to save the match at the Basin Reserve tomorrow.

England have gone to a 246-run lead with nine second innings wickets intact and 105 overs to play with tomorrow.

New Zealand have already been frustrated by umpiring decisions not going their way, including a big appeal for a catch at the wicket by Adam Parore off Marcus Trescothick from Nathan Astle's bowling when the batsman was 77 not out.

It has not been one of the great Test matches for the umpires, Steve Dunne of New Zealand and Darrell Hair of Australia, and that last one this evening was one of their toughest denials.

England ended on 184/1 with Mark Butcher 57 not out off 99 balls, and Trescothick having batted 118 balls for his 77.

The New Zealand side which had a poor first innings as the preamble to its first Test loss in Christchurch, learnt nothing when falling into the same hole in Wellington today.

What was frustrating for the New Zealanders scattered among the crowd of around 8000 today, was the absence of applied batting technique and execution.

It was difficult to believe that the New Zealand batsmen who performed so abysmally in attempting to hold out left-arm spinner Ashley Giles and fast-medium Andy Caddick, were the same batsmen who performed so well against Australia earlier in the summer.

Giles was a markedly inferior bowler to Australian spinner Shane Warne while Caddick is a notch below Glenn McGrath's class, both players who were almost played out of the Australian series.

Conditions may have been different, and clearly attitudes were, because the competitive fire seemed to be absent among the New Zealanders.

It was as if they were prepared to play in remote control mode until members of their frontline attack return to the side, and although the players might refute that, it was the impression they gave.

At the outset of the day Mark Richardson and Lou Vincent had worked their way from 70 to 135 when Vincent's departure, caught at a deep leg slip from Giles, signalled the start of a five-wicket swathe that was cut through the New Zealand batting for only 14 runs.

Caddick conspired with Giles to effect the demise of the home side, almost taunting those who had claimed after his second innings haul of six for 122 in the first Test in Christchurch that he wasn't a first innings bowler.

Figures of six for 59 would suggest otherwise and he goes into the second innings all fired up with a goal in sight of 200 Test wickets, which is only four wickets away.

It doesn't bode well for the home team.

Coach Denis Aberhart acknowledged as much.

"It was not a good day today.

"I think the pitch is playing fine. I think if you work hard at it, if you're bowling you get something out of it but batting wise the English have shown they can bat out there pretty well and early on this morning I thought we played pretty well on it too as well," he said.

It was a combination of bad batting and good bowling that put New Zealand in the position they now face.

They had set things up well by the drinks break where they were 130/1.

"The English bowlers kept the pressure on, they bowled well, they kept good line and good length. They haven't let us get away at all, and then some poor application, poor shot selection combined with some good bowling," he said.

Aberhart added that it would be hard to chase a score on the wicket but it was possible to see what could happen if batsmen got in and got some partnerships established.

New Zealand had managed to create some opportunities for wickets, one of which was dropped, but they had to get on with the game and bowl the next ball.

The method for New Zealand's survival was simple.

"We need to show the willingness to do the hard work. When the Englishmen bowl good lines, good lengths we have to work through that. I think for long periods of time we did that but we just didn't finish it off.

"We need to address that, it's more of a mental thing than a technical thing and that needs to be addressed for tomorrow and for the Test in Auckland," he said.