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The problem with New Zealand

Whisper it: the Black Caps are killing Test cricket

Alan Tyers

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Martin Guptill was cleaned up by Rory Kleinveldt, South Africa v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 3rd day, January 13, 2013
New Zealand: if Test cricket were pop music, they'd be its Rebecca Black © Associated Press
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The pressure group Save Test Cricket claims that the oldest format of the game faces a new and worrying threat to its long-term survival.

Previous hazards to the primacy of the five-day game have included T20 cricket, young West Indian men playing basketball, Indian television companies, universal suffrage, and allowing women into the Pavilion at Lord's.

However, it seems that Test cricket may be facing a more serious hazard than ever before: the New Zealand Test team.

"It's hard enough to promote Test cricket in the face of competing leisure activities," said a spokesperson for the group. "There's no denying that people, for some reason, enjoy watching the likes of Chris Gayle and MS Dhoni hitting sixes in packed stadiums with celebrities and dancing girls rather than Bangladesh v Zimbabwe Test matches in front of a bemused crowd of bussed-in schoolchildren and the odd farm animal.

"Tests are competing in the same leisure marketplace as the IPL, video games, pop music, filming your unmentionables on a mobile phone and posting the results on the internet. We get it. But New Zealand are absolutely killing us here with their performances against South Africa.

"Who wants to watch this sort of one-sided slaughter?"

The group is becoming concerned that forcing the apparently defenceless Kiwis to play Test cricket could "actually constitute an issue for the UN on human rights grounds". At the very least, it is clear that the long-term future for the five-day format is under threat like never before, thanks to Mike Hesson's baffled and battered Black Caps.

Save Test Cricket has attempted to stage an intervention, with patron and celebrity humanitarian Bono making a personal plea to the Kiwis.

"Bono has, once again, put his hand up and come to the party," confirmed the spokesman. "He wrote a personal letter to Brendon McCullum to urge him to think of the proud history of New Zealand Test cricket and get his act together. Bono plays mahjong every Thursday with Sir Richard Hadlee, so he knows what he is talking about."

Other celebrities have been rallying round as they try to convince the New Zealand Test team to stop disgracing the game's most storied format. Jane Fonda has been helping Martin Guptill with his foot movement at the crease, so far without success.

"Fair play to Jane, she's tried everything in her powers, but we've yet to see results," admitted coach Hesson. "It's not for want of hard work, though, that much I can tell you."

Unless New Zealand can become competitive very soon, there appears to be no other alternative than to split Test cricket into two divisions, with the Kiwis having to play Tests against the likes of Bangladesh, Wales, Cyprus, and tribeswomen from remote parts of the Amazon who have never seen a cricket ball before. If that fails, the only realistic hope is to wait for time travel to be invented and send them back to the 1990s to face England.

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Comments: 25 
Posted by MrRoberto on (January 17, 2013, 21:48 GMT)

After reading the authors bio the Black Caps must be reassured by the fact that there is life after a mediocre cricket career...as a less-than-mediocre writer.

Posted by MmpRubel on (January 15, 2013, 6:25 GMT)

Newzealand is having a tough time i know. but why r you mentioning Bangladesh? we dont play that well test, we know, but the stadium is always packed here. we r not killing test cricket, it is over ambitious ICC and BCCI is responsible for this. commercialization of a gentleman's game has ruined the beuty of the game.@the writer

Posted by amirev777 on (January 15, 2013, 4:01 GMT)

I agree that NZ Test team is the weakest they have had for last 10 years, but the mockery in this article is bit too much. Kiwis can still be very competitive in Test cricket, but they need to find some good openers - Hamish Rutherford appears to have some talent. Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder need to come in as soon as possible. Colin Munro has the potential to develop into a genuine all-rounder and Tim Southee a top class swing bowler. McCleneghan is another bowler who needs to be nurtured into the test side. Also I would like Southee and Boult to work hard on their batting since I believe they have the ability to contribute significantly lower down the order. Also Brownlie can bowl some deceptive leg-cutters and mix it with off-cutters - he should also concentrate on his bowling abd should be given more opportunity with ball.My Test side would be:

H. Rutherford B. McCullum J. Ryder R. Taylor D. Brownlie B.J. Watling (WK) C. Munro T. Astle T. Southee T. Boult M. McCleneghan

Posted by plow on (January 15, 2013, 1:49 GMT)

Rubbish article, you wasted my time, not even remotely funny.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2013, 0:38 GMT)

The fact is New Zealand cant bat and the issue has been around since we started looking for a decent opening pair after Edgar and Wright sadly the rot has spread right down the tree, I mean for gods sake look at Patels effort he was filling his pants everytime a bowl was bowled, Hardly inspirational for young fellas watching the game.My awnser to the problem is tear up their contracts pay them per run(say $50) and when the bat in the nets take all the protection gear away to harden them up. Thank goodness we can play other sports better.

Posted by kunderanengineer on (January 14, 2013, 23:40 GMT)

As an Indian fan I'm a little bewildered by this article. I agree that NZ cricket is in the doldrums but have people already forgotten the one sided hiding that India received not so long ago in England and Australia? At least the Kiwis can fall back on rugby. For those old enough to remember, India once dominated field hockey but now for us it's cricket or nothing. At the moment it's looking more like nothing so stop picking on little NZ.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 22:58 GMT)

If the wicketkeeper can stand and bat, what the hell is going on.They remind me of a kid being beaten up by a bully in the school yard and reasoned, if i take it, dont hit back maybe he will feel sorry for me and stop,rather than punching back Imay make him madder. Everyboby will losses but dont become a punching bag.Find a way to get Ross Taylor & Jessie Rider back in the team quick if they are healthy and If you are going to loose I would rather be caught on the boundry than bowled,LBW, I had great expectations for Kane Williamson but he has become a deer in headlights

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 21:50 GMT)

I think that Mike Hesson (is that his name?) should tell Brendon McCallum that he is not needed as test captain (only t20s), and that Chris Martin is the new captain and will open the innings.

Posted by chrysteon on (January 14, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

We probably still would lose to wales.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

@Gazzamonster: "Nothing worse than smugness when a superior team destroys a struggling team. I'm sure NZ would love to have the abundence of people that SA can look at for their cricket but they don't"

You'll actually find that Alan Tyers is not South African. The only Saffer writing for cricinfo at the moment is Firdose Moonda, go read her articles and see if there's any smugness from her.

With regards to the endless stream of Kiwi comments about your small population and "punching above your weight", SA has drawn nearly 90% of its cricketers from the same set of 24 schools since readmission. Do you really think that the other 90% of our population that have never had the privilege of picking up a cricket ball give us an added advantage over New Zealand?

On the other hand, after all the Kiwi smugness in their Rugby media (Yes, it gets really bad), were you actually gonna expect any pity from us now?

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Alan Tyers
Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.

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Alan TyersClose
Alan Tyers Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.
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