'New Zealand are going to struggle in India'
New Zealand are in for a tough time in India in the Test series due to questions over their ability to take 20 wickets in a Test, the lack of world-class players, and some poor form coming in to the tour, according to former opener Mark Richardson and former fast bowler Simon Doull.
Richardson and Doull, in conversation with Harsha Bhogle on ESPNcricinfo's audio show Time Out, said the changes in structure, the appointment of a new coach and inconsistency from some of the team's senior players added to New Zealand's problems.
"I think New Zealand are going to struggle," Richardson said. "There's no form behind them, they're going to a very difficult place to succeed. The motivation will be there but I believe they are down on confidence.
"I just can't see this New Zealand team bowling out India. So draws, and one or two times that [Brendon] McCullum and [Ross] Taylor might come off may give them a chance in the shorter games."
New Zealand were beaten 0-2 in the Tests against West Indies before this tour, and they will be without Daniel Vettori, their lead spinner, due to injury. They have five seamers in the squad and two spinners, Tarun Nethula and Jeetan Patel. Doull, though, said a four-pronged pace attack - Chris Martin, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell - was the way to go for the visitors.
"If they [spinners] are part of your four best bowlers, play them," Doull said. "The flip side is, the Indians play ordinary spin a lot better. Our four best bowlers are our four quicks. There's no point playing average spinners against very good quality Indian batsmen."
New Zealand's lean run in recent times owed in part to their senior players, like Vettori and McCullum, not meeting expectations, Richardson said. Vettori picked up just four wickets in his previous four Tests, while McCullum got starts in five of his last eight innings, but went past 50 only twice.
"McCullum is massively talented but massively overrated as well," Richardson said. "He just doesn't perform enough. When he does, it's staggeringly good and sticks in people's minds, but in the end it averages out to around about 30. Vettori once was a magnificent left-arm spinner. He is still very good but has lost the ability to take wickets. The key players have failed to be the catalyst for performance and the youngsters simply aren't at the level to make up for that."
McCullum, Vettori and Taylor are among the New Zealand players with IPL contracts and there could be uncertainty over their availability for part of the tour of England next year as it clashes with the league. Doull said they were able to play in the IPL because they performed for their national team on the world stage. "I wonder if too many players around the world forget that that is where they were predominantly first seen [international cricket], and that's where their loyalties should lie."
New Zealand are currently ranked No. 8 in both Tests and ODIs. When asked if they could only become a bigger force in the shorter formats, Doull said: "The stats are just not stacking up, to say we'll be a better one-day side. There will be the odd good performance like there was in the World Cup, but remember South Africa [in the quarter-final] was the only side we had to beat in a one-off situation. To play [and win] three or four games in a row, we don't seem to be able to do that."
Listen to the show here