South Africa v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 2nd day January 12, 2013

We weren't able to cope under pressure - Hesson


New Zealand's inability to deal with the heat is what worries their beleaguered coach Mike Hesson most. After a second successive substandard performance with the bat in the first innings of a Test match, Hesson was let down equally by his team's lack of application as he was by their lack of heart but he does not seem to have a fix either.

"It's a very disappointing 24 overs," Hesson said in his third fronting up to the media on this tour. "We prepared really well. We knew what we were going to be confronted with. The most disappointing thing was that when we were under pressure, we weren't able to cope."

Notably, Hesson's reason for his team's under-performance was more deflecting than it was explanatory. He heaped praise on a strong South African XI who applied wave after wave of pressure on the vulnerable New Zealand line-up, so much so that they simply could not withstand.

"We spent five and a half sessions out there, so we knew what to expect from the conditions. The pressure is sustained. Guys are under pressure in terms of pace and bounce and their techniques are getting exposed. I know the guys are working extremely hard and that why it's disappointing.

"We sustained pressure at times but they coped with it and that's the thing we are struggling to do. When we get pressure enforced on us, we struggled to get through and the more you talk about it, the harder it gets.

"South Africa is a very tough place to tour. They are the world No.1 side for a reason. They replaced Vernon Philander with Rory Kleinveldt - another high-class bowler. Once their bowlers smell a bit of blood, they are ruthless."

New Zealand held practice sessions every day after their first Test defeat and Hesson confirmed that the standards of practices remain high and the commitment from the players is unmatched. "The players are working extremely hard to get better. After the last Test, we could have put our feet up and gone oh well, tomorrow is another day," he said. "The guys know that we are nowhere near where we need to be and we are putting the work in. The players are trying their very best but we are being outclassed."

An example of that is Martin Guptill, who has scored two runs in three innings and continues to look inept as a Test opener. Hesson said Guptill, just like the rest of the unit, has been putting in the hard yards but just cannot make them count. "Martin prepared well for this Test, he was in a good space and he will be very disappointed with the way he was dismissed," he said. "When the ball swings at pace, you do tend to follow the ball. Sometimes you play and miss those…"

But blame cannot be laid at Guptill's door alone and Hesson and his troops are willing to take their chunk of it. "We all share the load. I can't fault the work ethic. We've got a support staff who work extremely hard but this Test match and the last Test match, we just haven't been up to it.. All of us start to think if we are challenged in whether we are doing the right things and whether we are challenging the players in the right way but I can't fault the work ethic."

In questioning the methods and strategies, Hesson conceded that perhaps the management group could implement stricter controls on the group. "We train hard, we train bounce and swing, we ramp the machine up and work on that and maybe we've got to do that more. We are just touching the surface in that area," he said. "Guys don't like to be challenged too much but we are making training more difficult and that's something we will look to continue."

As for the Taylor-shaped elephant in the room, Hesson addressed it candidly while being careful not to create the impression that the former captain alone would have been the difference. "I've said all along we'd be a far better side if Ross Taylor was here," he said. "But we've also got some other fine batsmen, who haven't quite been able to show it in those first three innings and they've got one more innings in this Test match. I'm sure they will be very determined to make a difference." If sentiment in New Zealand is to be believed, Hesson's job may hinge on that.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Sorry to say but I think McCullum might be part of the problem! He is a more than competent keeper but NOT an opener. The Kiwi's have class players but cannot utilise them. Am I the only one that finds it strange the Dettori "resigns" the captaincy and hardly plays for the Blackcaps again? Ross Taylor more than like wise and don't start me on Chris Cairns. McCullum should go in at 6 with the gloves, Taylor in at 3 and Dan the Man at 7 with the ball....this coming from a slightly more than pickled Englishman.

  • Harmon on January 13, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    @thenoostar: Lol, Pak in tier 1? Moreover you say that IF SA defeat Pak as if there's any doubt? As for Ind's tours of SA, last 2 tours ended level at 1-1 each. My feeling is that we could see the Test Lowest score record being broken successively in SA when Pak tour. Steyn, Morkel and Philander might even limit them to a single digit score - Pak's batting is that poor. Neither is Pak's bowling all that great, they got some good sharp bowlers but do Junaid and Irfan have the class? That is to be seen.

  • ra on January 13, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    It's not a good tour for NZ... they'll bounce back. Kiwis are fighters by nature. They are playing an exceptional team right now, and they haven't got the right bunch of guys in SA.

    I still recon they'll give England a run for their money.

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    This New Zealand team has had substantial harm hurled at it by numerous figures involved in the game and New Zealand's highest profile coach was hamstrung almost before he could start fixing problems. It is extremely unfair to blame Hesson for a decade of maltreatment of NZ Cricket.

  • gurinder on January 13, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    nz cricket team is a big joke right now , whitewashed in india in all games now its sa turn to do same, i am surprised how they drew in sl and aus

  • Sam on January 13, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    "Guys don't like to be challenged too much". So do we need a coach who is actually prepared to challenge them or do we need players who are prepared to be challenged? Either way, the statement speaks volumes.

  • David on January 13, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    No Gareth, Hesson should not be given time.

    We over-perform in rugby because no other country has a rugby-following population any bigger than NZ (4 million whites in SA, 4 million privately educated people in England, around 1 million privately-educated people in Queensland and NSW as well as around 200,000 in Argentina).

    But at any given time we only have 3-4 international class players, and our coach's primary task has to be to get as many of them onto the paddock on any given day.

    But Southee is the only unavailable one of our 4 currently. Vettori is avoiding the team because he feels mistreated - the general consensus is that he is "recovering" as slowly as possible - and Taylor and Ryder have been purged.

    Also, there has been an undue emphasis on ODIs and T20 for far too long. But we need old-fashioned cricketers. The likes of Lillee, Chappell and Marsh would all be purged by this absurd management group, whereas as I've said before, if Jesse Ryder's not in jail, play him.

  • Matt on January 13, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    So, to those who agree that NZ should field team/s in Sheffield Shield, how would this come about? I'm guessing the decision makers at CA and NZC don't scan these posts...

    I reckon NZ would qualify for some ICC development money for travel costs. Oz players could benefit from playing in "English" conditions like Dunedin and Chch once a summer, and NZ players would certainly benefit from an extended season on larger grounds and in better westher.

    And let's face it, who doesn't enjoy a good trans-Tasman rivalry.

  • ankur on January 13, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    I would again ask the same question i did after the 1st test...NZ are you a test side? Do you really believe so? Are your batsmen fit for even any good club teams? Ask yourself and hear your conscious speak.