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August 29, 2012
Mark Greatbatch, New Zealand's former coach, has questioned their batsmen's constant inability to cope against spin bowling. New Zealand lost the first Test against India in Hyderabad by an innings and 115 runs and Greatbatch said that while the current crop of players had been taught a lot about playing spin, it remained unclear whether they had been absorbing the information and putting it to use.
"You can only teach them so much; they have to take it on board and I'm questioning whether or not they are," Greatbatch, who played 41 Tests for New Zealand and coached them prior to John Wright, told Fairfax NZ News. "In the last four or five years, there have been people who have worked with players on playing spin and you'd have to question whether or not the information being delivered and talked about is being held on to.
"The top 20 to 30 fringe players have had access to resources and coaches - you name it, they've had it, but they're not getting any better in that department. A cynic would ask if all that information they've been given is any good, but when you have guys like John Wright, myself, John Bracewell, Andy Moles, Martin Crowe and Richard Hadlee involved, you'd suggest we know a thing or two about it."
New Zealand were bowled out 159 and 164 and eighteen of their 20 wickets fell to the India spinners, R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, with the final seven wickets falling for just 26 runs on the fourth evening. New Zealand captain Ross Taylor said, after the defeat, his team's capitulation was more to do with a mental block against spin than technical shortcomings. Kane Williamson was the only batsman to go past 50 for New Zealand - he made a watchful 52 off 163 balls in the second innings. During his knock, Williamson had looked to drive against the spin and, he said, this was something he consciously attempted after observing the India batsmen.
"One thing that's been quite clear is, growing up in New Zealand we've been taught to hit with the spin whereas their [India's] players tend to bat the other way and hit back into the spin," Williamson said. "It's quite a change, but it's something they all look to do, so it's quite a clear difference and something that our batsmen are looking at as potential options."
The strategy, Williamson said, could help the New Zealand batsmen avoid getting tied up. "It's about giving yourself a bit more room in terms of where you bat, so you have an option rather than the ball always spinning into your pads and getting caught up.
"It's not easy, seeing as it's something we're not faced with a lot. [But] it's important that each batsman has a clear message, so we go out and have that confidence to play the shots that we feel are required and spend a lot of time out there and enjoy the challenge of it."
In the second Test, which begins in Bangalore on Friday, the batsmen will have to look to get on the front foot as much as possible, Greatbatch said. "I'm not saying they have to go forward, but they have to [at least] look to; it's easier to go back from there if you need to, but going forward once you've gone back is much harder."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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