New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test, Wellington March 22, 2012

New Zealand look to Hobart for inspiration

Some sports teams draw inspiration from what their predecessors did years before them. New Zealand need only delve three months into the archives to be reminded of what they can achieve.

After being smacked sideways by Australia in Brisbane, losing by nine wickets in the first Test last December, they returned in Hobart to record a historic win. The victory was talked about as a turning point for New Zealand and whose results would resonate far into the future. The Hobart comeback will be a talking point as they head into Wellington for the final Test of the summer, although Ross Taylor said they are not necessarily banking on lightening striking twice.

"We have touched on it a little bit; we haven't touched on it a lot. But we were in a similar situation [in Hobart]," he said. "The score reflected that we got pretty much thrashed in Brisbane but it was actually a lot closer than people give it credit for and I think the same thing about Hamilton. We did have our moments in that game and if a couple of bounces of the ball went our way then it could have been a different story. We came back hard at the Hobart Test and we plan to do the same again tomorrow."

New Zealand have not had the opportunity to test that theory properly yet. Their first assignment after Hobart was a relatively simple one against Zimbabwe and since then they have played just two more Tests. The latest one, in Hamilton, is coloured with shades of the Gabba defeat. Although New Zealand were able to set South Africa a more challenging 101 to win (the target they set Australia in Brisbane was a mere 19), they still lost heavily.

After Hobart, their confidence in their ability to win games with five specialist batsmen and four seamers grew. But, in the space of two matches, South Africa have made them rethink. New Zealand will include an extra batsman in the XI at the Basin Reserve and opt for three seamers, which may be seen as going backwards but Taylor is optimistic about the change. "The balance of our side might be a little bit different in this game. I'm sure that it will be good to have a different balance to our side and a different energy with a couple of new guys coming in," he said.

New Zealand's main concern is putting runs on the board against a relentless South African attack. Taylor said the team management is urging them to keep it simple. "The message to the batsmen is that 'we have got confidence in you. Play your natural game'."

None of New Zealand's batsmen have got into three figures, with Kane Williamson their top-scorer across the two matches with 77. Both Taylor and Brendon McCullum have shown the capability to get a few more, but periods of stoic resistance and sublime shot-play are spoilt by making rash mistakes. "Mental barriers sometimes get you out," Taylor said. "Hundreds are what get you into good positions, 60s and 70s are good for a certain period of time but it's about getting hundreds and big hundreds. First of all, you have to get yourself in. Brendon and myself have got ourselves in but we haven't been able to capitalise."

The biggest obstacle to New Zealand scoring runs has been Vernon Philander who has looked threatening every time he has touched the ball. With his ability to swing, reverse-swing and get seam movement, Philander has offered no let-up but Taylor said New Zealand are determined not to let him break through this time. "It's just trying to deny him as much as possible. We have denied them [the other bowlers] to a certain extent but Philander has got on top of us. We have to deny him and if we do that, I'm sure we will put a bit more pressure on South Africa," he said.

Philander's nagging consistency has troubled New Zealand but Taylor seems to have figures out a plan to negate his effectiveness. "He puts the ball in the right places for long enough. I don't think reverse swing will come into it as much as it did in Hamilton," Taylor said. 'We have to play him on his merits and when we have played him attackingly we have come out on top, so maybe that's the way we go about it."

Taylor said that if New Zealand win in Wellington, it will not be as defining as the Hobart victory especially because they have backtracked on their four-seamer philosophy. But, it will still be an important achievement and a sign of what is to come for New Zealand. "It will be very big in the context of this series in itself," Taylor said.

Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scatterling on March 22, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    I am sick of hearing about Hobart, it was a test Aussie had in the bag and then threw it away.

  • InnocentGuy on March 22, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    So many issues. I don't think Guptill is a good player. Even in the shorter formats, he has failed way more than he has fired. That said, I would think that there aren't any better players to replace him. Part of the reason why NZ have sunk to such depths is because there seems to be no intent. No current NZ player really looks like he wants to win a game. They play to their potential alright but to me, they never exude the desire to win. Why would Ross Taylor say "We'll come back hard?" Why not play hard from the beginning? I would love for them to beat SA in the 3rd Test, but I'm 99% sure they are going to get whooped.

  • SafferBob on March 22, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    Another reason Philander has been taking wickets is because the NZ batsmen struggle to score against Steyn, Morkel and Kallis. Good luck to both teams, but I believe that the Black Caps are in for another hiding.

  • Maccanui on March 22, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    Looking forward to this test. I think we will be much better placed with this more balanced side. The saffas are an awesome team but hopefully we can give them a proper test because there is definitely a lot more to come from our lads.

  • Bruce_Robinson on March 22, 2012, 7:54 GMT

    While it's true that the NZ batsmen have taken a few more runs off Philander than the Aussies and Sri Lankans I'm not sure how Ross Taylor can say that NZ have at any time come out on top of Philander. His series figures speak for themselves. Having a couple of tailenders swinging for the fences and landing a few (very good) hits won't keep Philander up at night.

  • wanatawu on March 22, 2012, 6:51 GMT

    Please guys the sooner you get over that Hobart test the better it will be for you. Firstly you were lucky to win Aussies that day and secondly this SAFFA's are a much more equiped them them the Ozzies. These guys have 4 batsman in the top 10 and 3 bowlers on the top ten of the test batting and bowling rankings. They totally a different beast.Weather permitting you will get slaughtered in the 3rd Test.

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