New Zealand in Sri Lanka 2012-13 November 13, 2012

Not a total loss for New Zealand

Besides never agreeing to play in Sri Lanka in November again, three things each that Sri Lanka and New Zealand can learn from a rain-marred series

New Zealand

The conservative batting strategy should get a longer trial

New Zealand made two competitive scores in three attempts, against a good attack in tough conditions. Considering their recent results, that is not a poor return, and that mindset needs to stay for now. With the two new balls that keep swinging around for longer, yet stay hard and hittable through to the end of the innings, and the new rule that rewards aggression through the middle overs, New Zealand may have struck upon a batting strategy that others may seek to emulate, particularly on pitches that offer something for the new-ball bowlers. BJ Watling has illustrated the benefits of this approach this series, and he should retain his place in the top three when Martin Guptill returns. This may mean that Rob Nicol loses his place, or that Brendon McCullum moves to the lower middle order, displacing either Andrew Ellis or James Franklin, but either way, New Zealand should not jettison a possible fix to their batting woes.

Adam Milne should be selected more regularly - but perhaps without becoming a regular

Any team with a 20-year-old capable of bowling at 150 kph needs to invest in him, but Adam Milne may not yet be ready to become part of New Zealand's regular XI. He has a tendency to be wayward and often bowls too short, and time in domestic cricket may help him hone his game away from the pressures of international cricket. However, Milne would also benefit from testing himself against international opposition from time to time, and will learn lessons there that the New Zealand domestic scene cannot teach him. Bowling coach Shane Bond, who operated at a similar speed, had a similar build and a near identical action, and will also have plenty to add when Milne is with the team. New Zealand's selectors may need to pick and choose which tours Milne plays in for now.

Kane Williamson's role in the batting order should be clearly defined in limited-overs cricket

Throughout the World Twenty20 and at times in this series, Kane Williamson has been pushed down the order when the team has been after quick runs. There is a strong argument for Williamson being left out of the limited-overs sides altogether, not because he is unfit for them, but because at this stage of his career, he should focus solely on his Test game where his success is critical to the team's future. If the selectors insist on playing him in ODIs, however, he must be given a concrete role in the batting order. It is not fair to ask him to bat at No. 4 in one match and No. 8 not long after, and they are unlikely to get consistent contributions from him if they continue to treat him that way.

Sri Lanka

The new ball pair remains effective

Sri Lanka's pacemen, and Lasith Malinga in particular, have not had the most consistent year in ODIs, but against New Zealand, both he and Nuwan Kulasekara were menacing with the new ball. Malinga regularly beat batsmen outside off stump with movement, while Kulasekara's away-seamer - a delivery he has only recently developed, matured fully this series. There were few loose deliveries from either bowler, and they created chances at every stage of the innings.

Sri Lanka is still reliant on its experienced batsmen

Angelo Mathews made a sparkling 50 in the third ODI, albeit against bowling hampered by a wet ball, but Sri Lanka's youngsters have not yet blossomed in the top order. Lahiru Thirimanne was given two chances to impress at No. 3, but seemed unsure of how to balance aggression and defence. And although Dinesh Chandimal made 43 in the fourth ODI, he did so only after a nervy start in which he played and missed numerous times. They were given difficult conditions in which to impress, but their technical shortcomings appeared starker when their seniors handled the swinging ball with much more poise.

Jeevan Mendis is a capable second spinner

Mahela Jayawardene has been outspoken in his criticism of the new rule allowing only four men outside the circle. He had also outlined his case for why the new conditions will force teams to pick no more than one specialist slow bowler in their XI. Sri Lanka, however, have been served well by their spinning allrounder in this series, who finished joint highest wicket-taker. Jeevan Mendis' short spell in the fourth ODI secured the series for Sri Lanka. He bowled aggressively throughout the series, despite the new rules that encourage bowling quicker through the air. He is yet to find consistency in his batting, but he is doing enough with the ball and in the field to embed himself in Sri Lanka's XI.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kevin on November 16, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    I think Lewisduckworth is deliberately making mischief. Matt Henry is injured so couldn't have been selected. Colin De Grandhomme and Tarun Nethula while talented have had shocking form recently. I think Nethula went for 90 odd runs off 13 overs in a recent first class game. Selectors have pretty much got it right.

  • Stephen on November 15, 2012, 21:49 GMT

    Matt Henry should have been in the New Zealand ODI squad for the great experience and Neil Broom should have been over there also. The Test squad is lacking Hamish Rutherford & Colin De Grandhomme with the bat and the two spinners should have been Bruce Martin & Nethula on the back of their Plunkett Shield form last year ahead of Patel & Astle. Until the NZ selectors can get these types of decisions right then they'll continue to struggle.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2012, 17:00 GMT

    i think newzealand is best playing if rain not disturb it.....this total series is bad because eveyday is only rain day not cricket day in srilanka,,,,,ross taylor is best captain,,,and no other option......

  • tharanga on November 15, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    Its time that Sri Lanka prepare back up players for Mahela,Sanga and Dilshan. Chandimal and Thiri are good candidates.. Another two three players should be given the opportunity and a competition should be created among them. They must be given chances at the top of the order. No point in Thiri batting at 7 everytime. Home series are a good opportunity without throwing them to the deep sea and asking them to swim.....

  • Peter on November 14, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    For ODI's Kane Williamson should be slotted in at number 3, end of story. He is mature and NZ's best batsman, lets treat him as a number 3 and let him develop as a specialist number 3. Thst excatly what NZ needs anyway, and hes sitting right there ready to do it.

  • James on November 14, 2012, 17:00 GMT

    Well proof that at least some lessons were learnt from a disappointing series. 2 of the 3 NZ points suggest they should find a batting order and stick with it - which is the most important lesson they should have learned from the last 2 years nevermind this series

  • Usman on November 14, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    @Mark Ling - I would add Jacob Oram instead of Kane Williamson to bring in more experiance and to enhance their performances.

  • udendra on November 14, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    Jeevan Mendis a second spinner? you must be kidding. He may be good against NZ. But not so against teams who play spin well.

  • Anver on November 14, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    Southee's attacking bowling effort in the last ODI has given him & NZ bowling enough confidence before the test series..... along with Boult & Milne they have an ideal bowling attack, specially for this type of cold weather !!!!! If rain stays away, this will be a evenly contested series !!!!

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    stop changing the rules of ODI's. Mahela is right, the new rule sucks. Cricket is a game of statistics, and it will be hard to compare statistics of players over time if they played under different rule conditions. If fans are losing interest it is not becuase of the rules. It is becuase of the overabundance of cricket games throughout the year, resulting in each game becoming less and less significant

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