South Africa in New Zealand 2011-12 March 19, 2012

Lack of second-innings tons costing New Zealand

A lack of second-innings centuries is blighting New Zealand's ability to compete for longer periods in Test matches

The capitulation inside three days in Hamilton again highlighted a lack of runs when New Zealand return to bat in the second innings. There could be a number of reasons why this occurs: pitches can deteriorate markedly by the time a second innings starts, batsmen can be weary against fresh bowlers after a long stint in the field, the position of the match can mean quick runs rather than sustained, controlled knocks are required or, put simply, there can be a lack of application.

New Zealand's slumps in the latter part of Tests are dire if the number of second-innings centuries in the last decade are used as a barometer. There have been six in 66 innings. Of those half-dozen tons, none have helped win a Test. To find such a feat it is necessary to go back to New Zealand's victory over Sri Lanka in Colombo in May 1998 when Stephen Fleming made 174 not out and Craig McMillan 142, as part of 444 which brought pressure to bear on Sri Lanka's fourth-innings chase.

New Zealand second innings centuries in the last decade (April 2002 to March 2012)
Player Score Opposition Result Venue Year
Brendon McCullum 225 India Draw Hyderabad 2010
Brendon McCullum 104 Australia Loss Wellington 2010
Ross Taylor 107 India Draw Wellington 2009
Daniel Vettori 140 Sri Lanka Loss Colombo 2009
Jacob Oram 101 England Draw London (Lord's) 2008
Mark Richardson 101 England Loss London (Lord's) 2004

Brendon McCullum's 225, which helped New Zealand save the Test against India in Hyderabad in November 2010, was the last time a New Zealand batsman made a second-innings century. Compare that to the five second-innings centuries scored by New Zealand's opposition in six Tests this summer.

Compounding the problem is a dearth of second-innings centuries by New Zealand batsmen against South Africa across Test history. It is an exclusive club with just one member - John Reid. In 37 Tests against South Africa, there have been 14 centuries but Reid's 142 in the fourth Test of the 1961-62 series is the only time triple-figures came in the second dig.

The current circumstances are not helped by the New Zealand batsmen facing arguably the world's best bowling attack. They are also a batsman down, as they toy with four rather than the more conventional three-seamer Test attack. This theory is sound, provided the batsmen do their job. Kane Williamson went a considerable way to doing his with 77 across four hours and 13 minutes in Hamilton. That innings, combined with Brendon McCullum's dogged efforts at No. 3 and glimpses of form from Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori in the series, show New Zealand should be able to produce more runs. However, Vettori at No. 6 is more a pragmatic than ideal solution. Bringing in another batsman (or promoting the wicketkeeper up the order) may be more realistic.

While first-innings efforts should always be the focus, extra concentration on defence and occupation of the crease are required for the third test in Wellington. More second-innings centuries would make New Zealand a more credible Test force and give scoreboard attendants a well-deserved breather.

Andrew Alderson is cricket writer at New Zealand's Herald on Sunday

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cam on March 21, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    This highlights a real prpoblem in tests and a lack of an opening partnership to settle the top order. I believe Kane Williamson would make a great opener for Guptill. MacCullum needs to bat further down the order , he is not a number 3 or 4. He should come in at 5 or 6 like Gilcrest and smash a quickfire hundred when the ball is older. He can still open for ODI's. Taylor and someone else i.e. Flynn at 3 and 4 . Rob Nicol is clearly not a test opener and should stick to ODI's. Franklin coming at 7 gives us real batting power and he is still a useful bowler.We really need Ryder back has he is great average fior tests (40) . Too bad he is mentally unfit at the moment.

    My team 1.Williamson 2.Guptill 3.Taylor 4.Flynn 5.MacCullum 6.Van Walwyck (cant spell his name lolz) 7.Franklin 8.Vettori 9.Gilliespie 10.Martin 11.Boult

  • Michael on March 20, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    I suspect a tally of team innings lasting over 1/4 the time of a test, as well as of individual innings lasting past 2 or 3 sessions would be interesting as well. They need to bat for longer, then the runs will come. McCullum has been getting some good solid scores by being very watchful, I think he could go on further if he stayed that way rather than shifting into his "natural game". Easy to say from here of course!

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 21:49 GMT

    The problem for NZ is not a lack of 100s in the second innings, it's the fact that in order to compete against the top nations, NZ players have to perform at the peak of their ability every minute of every session. As there's no Reid, Turner, Hadlee, Wright or Crowe amongst the current Black Caps, no wonder they're mentally spent after putting up a very creditable fight over the course of both teams first innings! All things considered, they're doing better than expected with some notable individual performances to boot.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    I dont know if I can watch NZC make many more bad calls before I start cheering for some IPL team, they have taken away all the decent summer tests over the holidays for some 20/20 tournament which does not even get us into the champions league... And for what, to have cricket in Autumn !?! Dont kid yourself, summer has long gone in New Zealand -- Worst possible time for 3 tests.

  • Shalin on March 19, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    HadleeCrowe: The ICC rankings show that SA and NZ have played almost the same amount of matches in the past few years.

  • steven on March 19, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    Have a little faith...Guppy, Baz and Rosco are all due big time... sure not many second dig tons but gotta also factor in that we play about half the number of test matches compared to every other test nation... so stats like this should be on recent tests basis not time....

  • Andrew on March 19, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    What's the big deal? These guys are not used to having a second innings so it's not surprising that they're no good at it. Martin Crowe mentioned earlier this season that the domestic scheduling (i.e. first-class cricket in February and March) was affecting our performance in Tests, and he's right. Belting 50s in ODIs and Twenty20 counts for nothing when you face seven-over spells with the red ball.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    The Black Caps haven't made a second-innings century since November 2010? Incredible stat, that. Amazing that they haven't got there despite having had classy batsmen such as Guptill, McCullum, Ryder, Taylor and Williamson turning out for them.

  • Nick on March 19, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    I feel that the lack of left-handers in the top order has really hindered our chances of formulating a partenership. For a guy like Philander who uses accuracy as his greatest weapon, bowling to a top 5 of right-handers must feel like a dream come true, especially with NZ conditions to help him out. Odd decision by NZ not picking another opener when they said McCullum will stay at 3. I assume this means Flynn will open, but considering he bats 5 for Northern Districts, this surely is a plan destined to fail?

  • Richard on March 19, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Incredible stat. NZ's concentration is obviously the problem, once the test reaches halfway we begin to drop gears alarmingly. I believe the talent is there, but it's application that wins you tests, and that is nowhere. Very sobering that it seems now we need a psychologist rather than a coach.

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