Hesson wanted greener pitch at Basin Reserve
New Zealand's coach Mike Hesson has expressed his disappointment that the Basin Reserve pitch offered little seam movement for the fast men after the first session of the match. In the lead-up to the Test it was at times hard to determine which strip on the pitch square was to be used, such was the consistent grass cover, but Hesson said he would have liked it "much greener than it was" on match morning.
The toss proved significant as Steven Smith called correctly, sent New Zealand in and Australia rolled them for 183 before tea. Although New Zealand picked up a couple of early wickets in Australia's first innings the pitch flattened out much quicker than many of the players expected, and the Australians were able to go on and post 562 in their only innings.
"I would've liked this to be much greener than it was," Hesson said on Tuesday. "It certainly only seamed for two hours and I think that meant that both sides weren't able to be exposed in those conditions. It's a bit different when it seams for two hours, it makes the toss a little bit more important."
"Ideally you want both sides to have a bit of a crack at it if it does seam. You look at the wickets we lost in the first session they were all from good length deliveries and they were able to get the ball to move off the straight and expose some of our techniques. That's something we'd like to think if we were in a similar situation we'd be able to do something similar.
"We had four guys out defending in the first hour. I don't think that's mental error; there are times that you have to accept that they put the ball in good areas, the ball seams you're going to nick it. When the ball seams you do end up playing a little bit wider than you'd like to. We certainly did that in the first hour or so."
However, Hesson acknowledged that it was up to the batsmen to work out a way of coping in the seaming conditions, given the likelihood of a similar pitch in Christchurch on Saturday for the second Test. Although the New Zealand top order performed better in the second innings in Wellington, including with an 81-run opening stand, by then Australia were too far ahead in the match.
"We faced different conditions throughout the match," Hesson said. "We were challenged in the first session and if we were able to get through three down instead of five, possibly things could have been a little bit different. That's something we're going to have to get right in the next Test because likely we'll face conditions that will seam as well."
The other notable factor in the second innings was the reverse swing that Australia's fast bowlers managed to master early in the innings. The uncertainty that it created in the minds of the New Zealand batsmen contributed to the downfall of Kane Williamson, who was so productive in the recent Test series in Australia but made only 16 and 22 in the Wellington Test.
"When you're getting it to swing both ways that's a challenge," Hesson said. "Batsmen were talking about it a lot yesterday afternoon in terms of different ways to combat it. Kane's better than most in terms of being able to adjust his game but when the ball reverses both ways it's challenging and you need to think about what is the most challenging delivery - the ball that's attacking your stumps or the one going away.
"Every player has a slightly different technique on that. To be fair in New Zealand you don't get a lot of reverse swing 18 overs into a game on day three. It's something we face a heck of a lot more on the subcontinent than something we do here."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale