New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, Wellington, 5th day

Vettori calls for significant improvement

Brydon Coverdale at the Basin Reserve

March 23, 2010

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

Brendon McCullum celebrates his century, New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, 5th day, Wellington, March 23, 2010
Brendon McCullum's century was one of the few highlights for New Zealand © Getty Images
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Daniel Vettori has experienced a strong sense of déjà vu over the past five days. A first-innings team failure, an admirable but futile second-innings fight and a heavy reliance on the lower-order batting have been recurring features of New Zealand's Test play over the past few years. But despite being bundled out for 157 and being made to follow-on, Vettori is not convinced bolstering the batting for the second Test in Hamilton would make any difference.

"I think it needs a run-scoring extra batsman," Vettori said when asked if the team needed another specialist. "It's all well and good to pick someone. Most of our runs came from Brendon [McCullum] and myself, so if we brought another batsman in it would just push us down. Whether that is the right answer or not, I'm not sure."

He has a point. Apart from the 83 from Tim McIntosh in the second innings, there weren't many contributions of note from the top five in the ten-wicket defeat. Peter Ingram will be under pressure to hold his place after making 5 and 1, BJ Watling's second-day golden duck was followed by an unconvincing 33, and Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill made middling contributions without really having an impact.

New Zealand will choose their squad for the second Test on Wednesday and it is unclear if the balance of the side will be altered. Batting at No. 6, Vettori made 46 and 77 while McCullum scored 24 and 104, but it is first-innings runs that New Zealand need to find.

However, a strong bowling line-up is just as important for a team that took only five wickets for the match. "We obviously need to lift a lot, particularly our first-innings efforts," Vettori said. "We fought hard in that second innings but we need to show more penetration with the ball in that first innings and then stand up a bit more with the bat.

"It's been a trait of ours, particularly at the Basin, to get bowled out cheaply in the first innings and then fight pretty hard in the second. We can't afford to do that. We can't afford to be on the back foot at any stage against Australia in Hamilton."

The challenge is replicating the effort that New Zealand displayed on the weather-affected fourth day, when they lost only one wicket and pushed themselves into a strong position to save the match. The same fight could not be repeated on the fifth morning and they lost their last four wickets for 19 runs, allowing Australia a comfortable chase of 106.

"The fourth day was obviously our best day of the Test match," Vettori said. "It's something that we need to replicate over the whole five days to give ourselves a chance against Australia. Unfortunately we weren't able to build that pressure for long enough. After what we did yesterday it was a little bit disappointing to front up today and lose quick wickets. We wanted to bat for a long period of time but that's the nature of the game."

The key wicket was that of McCullum, who began the day on 94 and required only three balls to bring up his fifth Test century. In the fourth over McCullum edged to slip and was disappointed not to go on and bat New Zealand into a better position.

"I was pleased with how I was able to adjust my game from the way I played in the first innings and to try and give us an opportunity to put a partnership on with Dan and then Daryl [Tuffey] as well," McCullum said. "Against a very good team it rates as my best Test century. But when you lose a game it doesn't quite have the same feeling."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Posted by Grutness on (March 24, 2010, 10:08 GMT)

Sorry )cta, Nathan McCullum isn't fit at the moment for that no 9 spot - he got injured in the Otago v CD game. If you want a second spinner in that line-up it'll have to be Patel 9who deserves to be more than bringing out the drinks like he's been doing almost every match lately).

Posted by onlinegamer55 on (March 24, 2010, 8:02 GMT)

I'm not so sure that Brendon McCullum would be selected in Australia's *test team*, but he would be a definite selection in Australia's T20 team (33 innings, average of 36.55, strike rate of 133.19, 1 century, 6 fifties, one of only two centurions in the format of the game, a *definite selection* as a *specialist batsmen*). On the other hand, I'm not so sure that McCullum would be selected as a wicket-keeper batsmen in Australia's ODI team, let alone as a specialist batsmen; his average of under 30 isn't good enough. Daniel Vettori, of course would be a definite selection even without his batting ability, given Australia's current "lack-of-quality-spinner problem". But, in the same vein, I'm not so sure Vettori would be selected in Warne's era; teams don't usually select two spinners in a team no matter how good they are. This basically proves that deciding whether a player will get selected in specific international teams really depends on factors other than the player's talent.

Posted by Itchy on (March 24, 2010, 6:30 GMT)

@mraotxt - don't even think I would replace Haddin with McCullum. Vettori would be the only obvious choice. Unless of course you would replace a batsman with McCullum but who would you choose?

Posted by cheesemethod on (March 24, 2010, 4:36 GMT)

Exactly mraotxt. thats why even though they lost the first test against AUS, they tied the t20 and lost 3-2 in the ODIs. For the huge gap in population/development/financial situation NZ in my opinion does very well in sport generally. NZ has a solid limited overs squad who can take on the best and probably 2 players short of a really good test team. Give them time.

Posted by   on (March 24, 2010, 4:18 GMT)

How would Mcullum make an australian side ahead of haddin or pain and hartly for that matter

Posted by knowledge_eater on (March 24, 2010, 3:37 GMT)

@MB81 I am not sure if you are implying that only fast bowlers who smokes 90 mph can win you test match, then I would say Pakistan should have been at the top, there are more element need to win test match. If you have proper fitness, a decent pace consistent bowler will get you wickets e.g. Zaheer Khan Despite whatever condition or pitch you are bowling on. Or even decent spinner like Vettori

Posted by knowledge_eater on (March 24, 2010, 3:22 GMT)

@ MB81 If I remember correctly Bond had been injured many times, in fact injury almost finishes his career once. So does he want to finish his career, which has literally not more than 3-4 years left by playing test and jeopardizing his short term career ? He is still very dangerous asset in short term. Too me personally, NZ is going through transition phase. If I want to make Clone of Vettori - the wizard of Black(NZ) Magic, i would do the same thing Nz did with him. They introduced him when he was only Teen-ager. I was big fan of Chris Cairns, I thought after him Nz will suffer, but even then still Nz is very dangerous side in short-term format. I heard someone saying Nz will not miss O'brian, well i think they are. I hope Taylor shows his power now. I used to hear story in late 90's that NZ players do double job most of them are/were Teachers or farmers or doing some business. However, they were/are still producing decent players despite having big bully close haha jokes

Posted by scrubz on (March 24, 2010, 3:11 GMT)

NZ now have two number 11's with just as bad techniques!!!!!. I think Martin has done his dash, for a front line seamer he doesn't seem to be all that effective. We need a leg spinner as well but why we haven't produced any is a mystery. Top order must try harder, Sinclair has been found out time and time again by Aus. Well done Aus, good effort esp by Bollinger and Clarke.

Posted by robotiger on (March 24, 2010, 3:04 GMT)

@pgdawson: I agree about Williamson being given an extended go. I also think it would be nice to bring him in at no6 for the next couple of seasons (like Aussie did with Ponting originally), but given that no one else seems to be able to handle it, he will be put at no3 I'm guessing. Agree with comments - a strike bowler wouldn't go a miss... oh and a cure for cancer while you are at it.

Posted by Blearyeyes on (March 24, 2010, 1:19 GMT)

Kane Williamson has now been included in the squad for the next test, as has Sinclair. Exciting that Williamson may be given a chance, although something tells me it is more likely Sinclair may get yet another go (frustrating when you think he has been given another chance again and again only to fail miserably each time). However, I tend to think that either Williamson or Sinclair could hardly be a worse selection than Peter Ingram - uugggh.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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