New Zealand caught short again
New Zealand struggled to stay in touch with Australia for the full five days and lost both Tests convincingly. There were highlights in the performances of Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori, but there remains room for a lot of improvement.
Had a strong series with the bat thanks to his rearguard second-innings hundred in Wellington, a performance which went against his natural aggressive instinct, and a fighting half-century when New Zealand were trying to hold on in Hamilton. McCullum, who recently had the vice-captaincy taken from him, showed impressive maturity after being jolted by a lazy dismissal in the first innings of the series.
As usual, shouldered a heavy burden and no player from either team bowled more than his 107.3 overs for the series. His four wickets in the first innings at Hamilton gave New Zealand early hope but for the rest of the series he struggled to get many breakthroughs, which was as much a reflection of the Australians seeing him out and taking few risks as his own bowling. As the No. 6 batsman, he frustrated Australia with 77 in Wellington and outperformed some of his top-order colleagues.
Sparkled with New Zealand's fastest ever Test century in Hamilton, which will be one of the defining memories of the series. His 25-run over against Nathan Hauritz will be remembered forever by the fans who scattered around Seddon Park to avoid being struck by his sixes. He didn't have much impact in his other three innings.
Had a tough time in Wellington, where he rarely looked like taking a wicket and was likely to be dropped for the second Test. Daryl Tuffey's injury allowed Southee to retain his place and he collected six wickets in Hamilton, swinging the ball impressively. He also provided a late batting highlight with a barrage against Doug Bollinger and briefly threatened to rewrite the record books for fastest Test fifties.
To look at his figures of five wickets at 50, it would be easy to assume Arnel had a poor debut series. In fact, he was the most consistent of New Zealand's seamers, moving the ball just enough to make the batsmen work hard. Did enough to warrant keeping his place in the side, especially in light of how some of his colleagues struggled.
Like several of his mates in the batting line-up, had only one innings of significance. His 83 in the second innings at the Basin Reserve showed that the top order could fight, as he applied himself over several hours. However, he remains vulnerable early and his three other bats brought a combined 32 runs.
Showed promise but delivered little until the final innings, when he scored 58 as New Zealand were trying to hold on in Hamilton. It's unclear where he is best suited to batting and he is still finding his feet at Test level, but is a good prospect.
Didn't pass fifty during the series and is still learning about how to handle world-class new-ball attacks. His top score was 46 and he wasn't out of his depth, but will need to lift to retain his place as an opener in the long-term.
Unexpectedly brought back for the second Test after a two-year absence, Sinclair made starts in both bats without proving that he should remain. Mark Greatbatch was impressed with his application in the second innings but the likely return of Jesse Ryder later in the year will in part determine whether Sinclair stays.
Left out in Wellington and included for Hamilton, Patel remains in the unenviable position of being an in-and-out player. It is hard for him to find rhythm when he spends so long on the sidelines and he picked up a couple of wickets, but at a costly average of 85. Vettori is convinced Patel is the second-best spinner in the country, so he should play a greater role in the tours of the subcontinent later in the year.
Run out for 5 in the first innings at the Basin Reserve and caught behind for 1 in the second, Ingram offered little at No. 3 and was axed for the second Test. His lack of footwork made him vulnerable outside off against quality bowling but he promptly went back to the Plunket Shield and plundered 85 and a century while the second Test was under way, suggesting he might remain in the mix in future.
Didn't make a breakthrough in Wellington and continued his ten-year run without a Test wicket against Australia. Suffered a broken hand while batting, which ruled him out of the second Test and the World Twenty20.
A series return of 1 for 260 was exactly what Martin didn't want, after declaring before the first Test that he was keen to lift his disappointing five-day record against Australia. At 35 and with some younger prospects in the domestic ranks, the future for Martin is unclear.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo