West Indies in New Zealand 2013-14 December 15, 2013

New Zealand batsmen build home advantage

The home is where the heart is, and it's also where the runs have been for New Zealand this year

Ross Taylor's hundred in Wellington was not only the tenth of his career, it was also the tenth of New Zealand's Test year. That makes it their most prolific calendar year for individual hundreds.

Twice before, in 2001 and 2004, New Zealand have scored nine centuries - in 2001, the hundreds came from four fewer matches than will have been played once the Hamilton Test is complete, but 2004 contained only two fewer Tests.

Six of those hundreds have come at home and only one of the away centuries - Dean Brownlie's 109 in Cape Town - have come in the tough series against South Africa and England. There have been plenty of lows, particularly overseas - where they have been bowled out for 45 in Cape Town and 68 at Lord's - to counter the highs but there are signs that New Zealand's batting is starting to gain a more consistent appearance.

The current top seven have all scored hundreds this year and the lower order - right down to Trent Boult at No. 11, who scored a maiden Test fifty in Bangladesh - is chipping in with valuable runs. There is also some pressure being applied to the incumbents from the domestic scene, particularly by Aaron Redmond, who played the first Test as cover for Kane Williamson, and Michael Papps, another of the over-30s brigade, who is having a prolific season.

Replicating their batting success overseas remains the challenge for those in current possession of places - one they will next confront in Tests when they travel to West Indies in the middle of next year where their difficulties against spin will be preyed upon - but piling on the runs at home is a good place to start and can build belief in the batting order. In their five home Tests this year, only once have New Zealand not passed 400 in the first innings.

"Since England last year we've gone about things very consistently and got ourselves in winning positions," Mike Hesson, the coach, said relieved that one had been converted into a win. "To be able to win one so convincing is very pleasing. We try and get over 400 in each Test and put pressure on that way, get ahead in the game and try to hold it."

And they haven't always had the easiest conditions. In both Dunedin and Wellington, they were inserted on green wickets, with the second of those having the potential for trouble when they slipped to 24 for 2 before Taylor was dropped at slip.

"Early on with the bat, when you get inserted on a tough wicket and lose a couple early, we could have been bowled out for 150," Hesson said. "To get over 400 on a surface which kept offering something was vital."

Another fillip for New Zealand is that their imposing first-innings totals have rarely been replicated by the opposition. In each of the last three home Tests, the follow-on has not been saved so it has not just been the case of all the batsmen cashing in.

Although West Indies batted superbly to make 507 in their second innings in Dunedin their other three displays have highlighted, once again, their problems against the swinging ball. When Hesson was asked what the impact of two collapses, such as the ones in Wellington, can be he admitted they can be tough to come back from - and hoped it was not a situation he would have to confront again in the near future.

"I guess there's always a bit of self-doubt, about are you doing the right things; if you have a bad day, you start asking yourselves those questions," he said. "Without being overly confident, we have strung a fair few Tests together where we've got 400 so hopefully we don't have to think about that in the short term."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 22many on December 18, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    @ Pardo, There has always been a captain in the team...he has lead from the front for two years now...he even had a brilliant coach believing in him but sadly, some under achievers in positions unknown decided differently...now we continue to have a debate of who should be dropped from the team to bring in those who deserve to be there.

  • dummy4fb on December 17, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    If McCullum can't keep he needs to open. Getting 35 out of him at 1/2 is better than the same at 5/6. Ryder must come back and with Williamson and Taylor makes a very strong mid-order. Watling at 6, then Anderson. Forget Vettori, regrettably now yesterdays man. It is an interesting proposition that if Ryder/Williamson can slip in say 15 overs can McCullum be squeezed in at 6? That would leave 8-11 to Southee, Sohdi, Boult and Wagner/Bracewell. Doesn't solve our opening issues but Guptill must come back surely.Probably need Fulton at the other end, so how about: Guptill, Fulton, Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, McCullum, Watling, Anderson, Sohdi, Southee, Boult. Doesn't work does it. So I revert to my original position, McCullum needs to open for Fulton with Bracewell/Wagner coming in or else McCullum just goes.

  • dummy4fb on December 17, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    yep I think those comments confirm it, Rutherford is the one most likely for the chop at the moment

  • Lermy on December 16, 2013, 22:05 GMT

    Anderson has been a surprise with the ball, disappointing with the bat thus far, but I hope they persevere with him. He looks totally at home out there, and has shown glimpses of what he can do with the bat. If he can start delivering runs plus keep performing with the ball, he'll be very handy. If Bracewell can find some sort of form with both, then we have two very good allrounders.

  • Snowbadger15 on December 16, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    with Ryder returning and McCullum not being dropped, Alex Hose's 11 is good because Ryder bowls decent seamers and Anderson looks a better choice than Wagner as third seamer, Alex Hose's team would give us batting right down to 9 with Vettori at 9 and 6 bowling options. Test 11 for India series

    Rutherford,McCullum,Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, Anderson, Watling, Neesham, Vettori/Sodhi, Southee, Boult. Neeshams recent form warrants a selection and he would mean our tail would become as strong as it has been for a long time.

  • pardo on December 16, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    Agree with Bishop - Fulton is dull and ugly but when he gets in he gets a decent score - in the absence of a time machine to bring Turner, Wright or Richardson back he's the best of a bad lot. We need him. I take Gagg's point that there isn't another captain making himself obvious so, BMac stays. But if so he has to open (at Rutherford's expense). I don't see a space for him at 6 as I wouldn't want to rely on Williamson/Ryder for more than a total of 5 or 6 overs a day in a test - they'll each have their day once in a while but most of the time they won't really put pressure on opposition batters - so you need a player like Anderson. Likewise, don't muck Williamson up by making him open - England tried it with Root and it didn't work. He stays at 3. Which leaves one spot up for grabs. If Ryder goes to 5, BMac goes to 2 and we accept that we'll be 1 down inside the first half hour more often than not but that once every 6 or so tests he'll come off.

  • espncricinfomobile on December 16, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    Fulton is on thin ice 2 out of 3fails against a terrible attack.

  • Bishop on December 16, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    @luke dalgety. You want to drop Fulton because he scores his fifties too slowly??? Seriously? How about dropping Rutherford instead, who invariably throws his wicket away long before he reaches fifty leaving the middle order exposed to a fresh attack with a still newish ball?

    I must admit, I doubted Fulton's recall to the test side...in fact reading about it made me want to smash my head repeatedly against my computer keyboard. But you can't argue with results. Since his recall, he has repeatedly blunted the new ball, and then gone on to score more than useful runs. I would have liked to have seen him convert a few more fifties to hundreds, but two tons in nine tests is still pretty good. He scores them ugly, and his technique is questionable, but somehow he finds a way. Personally I think a Richardsonesque old school opener who is happy to be 20 n.o. at lunch is exactly what NZ have been looking for.

  • dummy4fb on December 16, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    anderson has to stay based on performances, mcculum is not consistent, taylor well we know where he is at, williamson is improving massively, fulton has averaged 40 since returning so unfair to drop him, rutherford i think needs to go back to fc cricket and try to get not out in one innings or more and test himself against vettori nad astle aswell as forming partnerships lower down the order

  • kiwicricketnut on December 16, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    @ juvin liji, nobody doubts mccullums talent, ive said this before and don't want to sound like a broken record but there would be at least 15 batsmen in nz with a better first class record than mccullum, i'd argue that if any one of these guys were given the oppotunities at test level that mccullum has had they would of produced a better record than him. still averaging 35 is ok for nz batsmen but does that mean we settle for mediocrity? as for his captaincy, i don't mind it but he makes some dumb decisions as well, he's certainly not the second best in the world. in all fairness though he won't be dropped but ryder can't be left out, nor should anderson be dropped, most people want to see him shift back to open and lead from the front and i agree, it would be the least disruption to the team but it should be rutherford not fulton who dips out as much as i'd like both gone.

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