South Africa v New Zealand, 1st Test, Cape Town, 1st day

New Zealand clueless against high-quality pace

New Zealand's implosion inside 20 overs was an illustration of the gulf between the No. 1 ranked side in the world and the No. 8 ranked one

Firdose Moonda at Newlands

January 2, 2013

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Brendon McCullum evades a bouncer, South Africa v New Zealand, 1st Test, Cape Town, 1st day, January 2, 2013
Brendon McCullum: "The spell we saw from Philander was as good a spell as you're ever likely to see in Test cricket" © Getty Images
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New Zealand were expected to be overwhelmed. They were expected to struggle. They were expected to get taught a thing or two. But they were not expected to be this bad.

They were not expected to stand at the crease with their legs only as good as painted on. They were not expected to hang their bats out to dry. They were not expected to field as though their souls had left their bodies and as though there were no soles at the bottom of their feet either.

They know that their performance on day one was far below expectation and that there are no excuses that can explain it away. "We weren't anywhere near where we need to be with the bat," a straight-faced Brendon McCullum admitted.

"It's sombre. There are some really hurt boys in our change-room. We had such high hopes coming into this game. To have put on the performance we did today, everyone is hurting immensely. It's not a good day for anyone involved in our team at the moment.

"You certainly don't question anyone's performance but none of us wanted it enough today. We've got to turn up tomorrow and try and get the job done with the ball. We're still capable of performing at this level but we are going to have to improve our performance on today."

Admission, acceptance and anger. McCullum even skipped denial as he went through all the stages of grief in a single day. At the heart of the matter: that New Zealand were just not good enough. It was not under-preparation that affected them even though the tour-match in Paarl was played on a completely different surface nor was it being mentally spooked.

New Zealand's implosion inside 20 overs was an illustration of the gulf between the No. 1 ranked side in the world and the No. 8 ranked one. Scarily, that division is wider than should be acceptable or comfortable. They are in two different leagues.

As poor as New Zealand's footwork and shot selection was, South Africa's attack and one of them in particular, Vernon Philander, was relentless, piercing and hostile. Back on his home turf after a leaner patch away than he wants to admit, Philander was charged up after having recovered from injury in time to play and having the chance to restore the reputation he built here. He went back to the same basics that worked for him before. Consistent length, nagging line outside the offstump and the ability to make the ball move just enough to cause indecision in the batsman's minds.

In five overs, Philander had five wickets and from there New Zealand could not recover. "The spell we saw from Philander was as good a spell as you're ever likely to see in Test cricket," McCullum said. "He never missed his length and asked questions defensively. In terms of defending his stumps, he also managed to get the odd ball to kiss away. It was a real class spell and then [Morne] Morkel and [Dale] Steyn chipped in with their hostility."

Steyn, who was after a milestone, and Morkel were left with only scraps. Instead of treating them with disrespect, they fought over them with the hunger of starving men tussling over the last piece of bread. They underlined South Africa's relentlessness, which Jacques Kallis said now functions at its peak. They made a pitch that only had a little bit of juice in it in the morning look like it was flooding with moisture simply because they had the right skills to exploit the movement when it was there and keep the pressure on when it was not. "The wicket didn't warrant the score," Kallis said. It was South Africa's bowling, not the strip, that made the 45 all out.

Some of South Africa's motivation going in to this series was to justify their No.1 ranking. The only way they can do that against an opposition as out of their depth as New Zealand is to not allow them anything. In short, South Africa feel they have to demoralise New Zealand as mercilessly as they did today.

Theirs was a showing so clinical that it was tough to separate whether New Zealand were as deficient as they looked or South Africa were as dominant. It was more a case of the combination of the two that made the differences so stark. "It was a poor batting performance coupled with an outstanding bowling performance," McCullum said.

And that was only after the first 20 overs.

New Zealand came back for an over, when Doug Bracwell had Graeme Smith out for 1 but then Alviro Petersen, partnered by Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis continued to take the game away from them. That is where New Zealand sit now. Those who did not buy tickets for day four know their decision was the right one.

The match could well end in two days and all New Zealand can do is try to claw back some respect. "The real challenge is to turn up tomorrow and try and get a job done. We've got to bowl them out and then we've got the opportunity to bat and bat for our lives," McCullum said. "We've got to put in a performance that is worthy of New Zealand cricket." The problem for them is that South Africa are after the same thing.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by   on (January 3, 2013, 11:35 GMT)

Bring in Luke Ronchi.I think he qualifies for NZ in about ten days.Fly him over NOW!

Posted by tony122 on (January 3, 2013, 10:11 GMT)

@Pardo- i agree we need two divisons. Maybe we can have 4 top teams in the Upper tier, and the next 4 in lower tier. But what we need is that these two tiers should be flexible and needs to be updated every 4 years. We have a very liberal structure right now and this reflects the old laid back times of cricket when teams just toured each other at their sweet will without any overseeing authority like ICC. Now we have an ICC, which decides the scheduling of Test matches to a large degree so individual countries have no choice and are forced to play every team whether they like or not. If we have two tier structure we can eliminate lots of meaningless matches, increase the good ones and can genuinely think about a World Championship of Test matches. Then we can update the tier after every round of Test championship 4 years cycle.

Posted by Patchmaster on (January 3, 2013, 9:48 GMT)

I totally agree with Lebowski. McCullum & Guptil are both massive under performers. Yet we have players like Hamish Marshall and Sinclair who were dropped form the Test side with much better records. McCullum averages about 31 in tests - how is he still in the side ? Guptil seems incapable of transfering his ODi and T20 form, so drop him. I'd MUCH rather seeing youngsters getting a chance, and chances are they'll get more runs than these two.

Posted by camirapaul on (January 3, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

Hesson and McCullum basically did a job on Taylor, So i cannot believe that on his first big decision McCullum went into bat. Did not Hesson think hang on Brendon, we have a weak batting line-up, facing the best bowling line-up in the world at present, on a green top, away from home, were down on confidence, and with Martin playing we only have 10 batters. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME at what stage Hesson thought hey Brendon why not bat First !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (January 3, 2013, 9:23 GMT)

Sadly for McCullum, this was a performance worthy of New Zealand cricket. In a country that gets its identity through an obsession with a dishonest rugby team, there's not much left for other sports. They try their best but only All Blacks matter and once you weaken even that through politicking this is what you get. They will never be more than honest triers except when the odd outstandingly gifted performer comes along like a Hadlee.

Posted by camirapaul on (January 3, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

Okay have to reply to a couple of comments Wood Dash- McIntosh and How both had ample opportunities to cement their places they were dropped for performing exactly the same as the current players. Lebowski yes Guptill sums up NZ cric in a nutshell heaps of potential but!!!!!, problem is who do you replace them with. I have supported NZ cric all my life but last night was the most disappointed i have ever been. But i don't know what the answer is. (maybe we are just crap at cricket).

Posted by Jimmyrob83 on (January 3, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

let's not forget that South Africa and Australia were both out for sub 100 scores in SA not that long ago. SA can be a difficult place to bat at the best of times. Cut the Kiwis a little slack.

Posted by pardo on (January 3, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

"They are in two different leagues." You're right - or at least, they should be. Test cricket needs to adopt a two division system so that the best teams can play proper 4-5 test series regularly and not waste time and money with embarresments like this. I'm a New Zealander but I grew up in the age of Hadlee, Crowe, Wright & Smith. Four genuinely test class players is the minimum you need to compete - outside of the 1980s the most NZ have ever had is 2 or 3. This team have none. I love New Zealand, but I also love proper test cricket. I'd much rather watch the Ashes or India v SA than this drivel. We need two division test cricket, with possibly the occasional game between a "best of Div 2" team against the big boys.

Posted by The_Wog on (January 3, 2013, 7:01 GMT)

Luckily everyone's forgotten the 9/21 debacle.

Posted by lebowski on (January 3, 2013, 5:37 GMT)

Guptill epitomises everything that is wrong with NZ cricket..he has played 52 test innings for an average of 32, he has 2 test centuries against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe..his stats are awful but he continues to get selected without question. Mathew Sinclair test stats: 56 innings avg 32..identical to Guptill but the difference is that Sinclair got dropped from the side numerous times..So either the selectors are incapable of processing the fact that Guptill's flashy innings in T20 do not change the fact that he is a rubbish test cricketer or the depth of first class cricket is so terrible that he is still considered the best option!! which is a truly depressing thought

Posted by SeanoN on (January 3, 2013, 5:37 GMT)

Keep it up Proteas... Keep on hammering these Kiwis... For all the abuse FAF took in that pathetic World Cup match that we played lets go for the kill and be ruthless.... We have the best team in the world now lets dominate!! Can't wait for De Lange to come back and give us that 4 man all out pace attack.

Posted by morangehambo on (January 3, 2013, 5:26 GMT)

Don't you love 'Comical Baz' - his opening comment is 'we weren't anywhere where we need to be with the bat' - you think?? His leadership insight is remarkable! Great start - I'd rather we did away with the skipper conferences and just had the NZC PR person rattling off the party line!! The fact is none of the top 6 can string consistent scores or time at the crease - how many have a test ave of over 40 in the past 2 years??? And when you take Franklin into the test as an all rounder - you know the cupboard is bare or the selection policy flawed..... I truly suspect the latter! Day 2 must herald 'application' rather than 'surrender'.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

Jeez - I was really disappointed that NZ did not use up their twenty overs - oops.

Posted by reywob on (January 3, 2013, 3:25 GMT)

I hope this shocking performance has a silver lining - This has to be Franklins and C Martins last test.McCullum is not an openers A hole and needs to bat at 5 or 6.Against England our team should be - Redmond (who is a opener)Guptill,Williamson,Taylor,Munro,McCullum,Ronchi(wk),B Martin,Wagner,Southee,Boult - You will see no Ryder in the list, I would doubt if he will play for NZ again and that is fine by me-why would you its a shambolic mess at the moment , it would be a true pity to not see him play for NZ agian and I would replace McCullum in the above list with Ryder As for the next test,Flynn to open ,McCullum at 5,B Martin and Wagner in, C Martin and Patel out-Looks like I am shuffling the chairs on the Titanic with the batting lineup , but there are few options with the squad that is over there

Posted by   on (January 3, 2013, 3:17 GMT)

Things like these happen in cricket. It's cricket! NZ are a great side and they will surely bounce back. They need Ryder and Taylor back though, right away...at all costs!! Sorry NZ but I am so glad this didn't happen to Bangladesh.....the whole world would have been after their test status then!

Posted by SameOld on (January 3, 2013, 2:54 GMT)

Disappointing, but not at all surprising when you consider the state NZC is in at the moment.

The Taylor debacle didn't just cost us Ross Taylor the batsman. It also showed his NZ team mates that their efforts on the pitch don't matter in the eyes of their so-called superiors. The decision was made, and neither Rossco's runs, nor his leading the side to a fairly unlikely victory, mattered a jot. At the other end of the spectrum, the treatment of Jesse Ryder shows that if you do require support, you're not going to get any. Not exactly an environment in which one could be expected to excel.

Hesson must go, along with those who argued for his hiring. The policy of picking an extra useless batsman over a useful extra bowler must go. Ross & Jesse must be brought back in to the fold. If this means the end of Baz's international career, so be it.

Posted by teviz1 on (January 3, 2013, 2:10 GMT)

McCullum probably thought he was playing T20, until SA went in to bat.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2013, 1:29 GMT)

It would have been interesting to hear Mike Hesson's teamtalk after that performance, doubtlessly drawing on his own test match and first-class experience to help the boys understand where they went wrong and how they could reestablish some credibility with the public! Or maybe he could draw on his experiences with Kenya... What an embarrassment: I bet Martin Crowe is burning his NZ jerseys now....

Posted by chadry1 on (January 3, 2013, 1:03 GMT)

I agree Jordanious77, i also think that openers aside, NZ has players that are talented enough to perform on the international stage. The problem however is that talent alone is not enough, they need a bit of intestional fortitude and nous which is clearly what is lacking. Look at Ryder, all the talent in the world but the guy can't keep on the straight and narrow. Throw in the mix that the big bucks are earnt by proving you can bat with the razzle dazzle and why would you want to apply yourself in a test. And that is exactly how the star players in this team portray themselves, ie that they don't care. I am now a 30 year supporter of NZ cricket who doesn't care either.

Posted by Min2000 on (January 3, 2013, 0:27 GMT)

New Zealand cricket is in freefall right now.

We have a coach that is clearly out of his depth and a brand new captain who used to be half decent keeper/batsmen but has devolved into a T20 slogger.

We have Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder, arguably in the form of their lives, here in New Zealand while the team gets annihilated in Cape Town.

By all accounts, McCullum wanted to be captain. Do you still think he wants that job and that responsibility after his first day leading the test side?

This whole Taylor/McCullum episode has been an embarrassment and has clearly damaged an already vulnerable side.

NZC need to own up to that. Buchanan, Hesson, and White probably all should go. McCullum needs to bat at 6 or drop out of the test side altogether and be replaced by Luke Ronchi who is a quality keeper/batsmen.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2013, 0:15 GMT)

Now this must be bad dream come true for the Kiwis. Did they once created a record at 29 for all in a test match? But this is cricket.....

Posted by hoags on (January 2, 2013, 23:54 GMT)

Not sure how you can refer to the spell as relentless. Im pretty sure a word like that has the connotation of repeated over a substantial period. You cant be relentless and completed inside 20 overs. This was a pathetic showing from NZ, im ashamed to be a supporter. Great spell from Philander, but sticking it on a length at 130kph hardly qualifies as one of the best spells ever in tests. What do the kiwis do in the nets? How can international players on hundreds of thousands of dollars a year not know how to leave a ball or move their feet? If someone is bowling for the bails, get forward and bat out of your crease?! Mcullum and williamson both out sitting on back foot when should have been well forward. Certainly dont question anyones performance says Mcullum? thats exactly what is needed. He previously commented 'we stopped listening to crowe years ago' yes pretentious Brendan, it shows. Wouldnt want to learn any basic fundamentals to batting would we?

Posted by hotwife on (January 2, 2013, 23:16 GMT)

McCullum and Guptill are not international class openers. Guptill was rooted to the spot fending at an outswinger (and does it often agains quality bowlers), McCullum's position to defend a nipper backer was just abysmal. Have a look a the replays. Franklin doesn't deserve a place in the team at all and Watling is a wicket waiting to happen (again, neither back nor forward), plus his keeping is so very average. If Peter Fulton had been given as many chances as say Guptill, he'd have turned out to be a decent test batter. Whilst Taylor may not have been a great captain, and McCullum may be a better one, McCullum has failed in his last four series, v SA, WI, India and Sri Lanka. He must be bordering on losing his place in the team, where to then for a skipper?

Posted by KGL154 on (January 2, 2013, 22:58 GMT)

Freak bad batting performance, same thing happened to England a couple of years ago against a West Indies attack that is not as good as this SA team. Martin Crowe already mentioned how to deal with Philander (the same way he dealt with Wasim Akram): You treat every ball like an inswinger and know where your offstump is. That way if the ball moves in you have covered your stumps and if the ball moves out then you don't knick it. NZ tried a similar method against McGrath in 2001/2002 and it did the trick. With the 200 odd backroom staff how is that nobody is training the players to do this?

Posted by Jordanious77 on (January 2, 2013, 22:35 GMT)

@woodnash Your argument to drop Flynn is wrong. He was the only player to face over 20 balls today. he put in FIGHT, the thing everyone is calling for. The only player to do so in this innings... He just had no one to support him.

And how? you have to be kidding!! His First class form is terrible! I'd rather Carl Cachopa be brought into the side. I'd rather Fulton ahead of him also, as although Fulton hasnt been performing he has the ability to show fight and determination. The 2 things i would rather see in our team than How. Someone who struggles to score over 10....

Posted by Hoady on (January 2, 2013, 22:29 GMT)

@Wood Dash.. You think this is a selection problem? Like NZ has heaps of domestic players with 40+ batting averages being overlooked? I don't think so. No one is batting well in NZ, putting pressure on selectors to choose anyone they can. At the grass roots level, NZ just isn't producing basic batting competence. Our poor technique is well documented, but you can't wait until players reach national level to start addressing the basics. There needs to be a concerted effort to set higher training standards at schoolboy level. We used to blame NZ pitches, but they are all drop in now, so need a new excuse.

Posted by mahjut on (January 2, 2013, 21:54 GMT)

@vikram501 ... i want to agree with your plea for perspective but don't feel i can on a number of fronts. It IS true that SA have a tendancy to assume too much after inflicting a big thrashing (especially at home to sub-continental sides, but generally all sides) but apart from the overconfidence - something Kirsten has turned simply to belief in THIS team - in actual fact India in particular was still FULL of justified self belief and had some top performers out to prove a point. India were #1 at the time with a formidable batting line up and decent enough bowlers (not least Bhaji - who stepped up in that test). One should expect a much improved showing by NZ next time - they're certainly not awful even if they'd be strenghtened by a Taylor or a Ryder - but, mainly, this is a VERY different SA team than the one who played Eng, Ind, SL and Aus at home. I think your call for perspective is (partially) lacking in some perspective of its own but i do wish NZ well for tomorrow and beyond..

Posted by chadry1 on (January 2, 2013, 21:53 GMT)

Martin Crowe wrote a great article days ago on why the NZ batsman score less than their overseas counterparts. Some reasons given were the climate and playing on rugby grounds. That might be true but the biggest reason that I have observed is that they are simply GUTLESS. NZ had built up a history of being hard to beat, even if they couldn't win a test and this is what the NZ cricketing public expect, not wins but to show some fight and be hard to beat. It appears that the ability to show some fight will become even less fashionable with Brendon McCullum as skipper. His ideal of playing the game at 100 miles an hour without giving any consideration to the opposition or the match situation will see both more losses and more supporters leave the game. McCullum's philosophy on how to play the game does not resonate with the NZ cricketing public.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 2, 2013, 21:33 GMT)

I was just thinking that Hesson reminds me a bit of the ex-Aussie coach Buchanan, then I remembered NZ employ them both! Not sure what the Kiwi cricketers have done to deserve this but I feel sorry for them.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

Mike Hesson was spotted deleting parts of his resume earlier today.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

Now this just shows to me a good player like Ross Taylor was unfairly removed as captain. Until New Zealand off field issues are sorted out, the problem will remain.

Posted by Collitjies on (January 2, 2013, 19:06 GMT)

Actually I was saddened by the poor performance of NZ. They are generally better than today's play, I just hope that they are able to come back tomorrow and play like cricketers. Afterall this type of match is not doing either team any good.

Posted by vikram501 on (January 2, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

India got thrashed in SA and they won the next one. Same with SLK and to an extent the Aussies (admittedly not a thrashing). So before talking about different leagues, some perspective please.

Posted by dr.thirsty on (January 2, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

McCullum said "we've got to put in a performance that is worthy of New Zealand Cricket". Sadly, you just did.

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