Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day

Batting ineptitude sinks New Zealand

New Zealand crumbled against the spin of Rangana Herath on the third day, but they had been damaged by seam too

Andrew Fernando in Galle

November 19, 2012

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

Ross Taylor fell after misreading an arm ball from Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day, November 19, 2012
There was no fight in New Zealand on the third day © Associated Press

New Zealand's first dismissal of the day epitomised their morning and foreshadowed the ineptitude to follow. Nuwan Kulasekara had been bringing the ball in, as he often does, but there was none of the hooping swing the New Zealand bowlers had enjoyed the previous morning, just a little movement off the seam. Martin Guptill had not scored a run in his first seven balls, and he played the eighth expecting it to nip back, but it continued straight and clattered into middle and off. He glared at the pitch like it had just spat a pit viper at him, but it was not the fault of the surface. He had simply failed to get his front foot forward and missed a straight delivery. It was a technical failing. 

The pitch can't be blamed for the remaining eight wickets either. Kane Williamson was perhaps unlucky to be caught down the leg side, but the other batsmen were neither technically capable of handling Rangana Herath's spin, nor did they possess the psychological fortitude to survive regardless. Balls didn't go through the surface, nor did they fizz off the wicket as they might have if the Test had gone five days. There was plenty of turn, but as Brendon McCullum affirmed on day one, that is to be expected in Sri Lanka.

In India, New Zealand had lost 31 wickets to R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in two Tests, and 13 wickets to the spinners in Galle suggest forcefully that they must address their failings against spin. They had spoken of being positive and not allowing the slow bowlers to settle, but their means of pursuing that ambition seemed exclusively limited to hitting out. Picking gaps and rotating the strike have long been the bedrock of effective strategy against spin, but they eluded New Zealand in both innings.

Perhaps the only statistic New Zealand can find solace in, is that England surrendered even more wickets to spin at this venue eight months ago. But unless they are harsh on themselves after this performance, it is difficult to see them reacting in time for the second Test.

"Herath has got 45 wickets this year and they all haven't been against us, so he has got wickets against other teams as well," New Zealand captain Ross Taylor said after the match. "In both innings he dominated our batting line up. Leading to the next game we need to come up with a plan on how we are going to combat Herath.

"We've been in this situation before, and we came back and played a lot better against spin after spin dominated us in India. We've got a couple more days to try and get our process and thinking around it. We don't want to dwell what's happened in the past, but we have to get on with it."

Spin was not their only shortcoming in Galle, with five top-order wickets having fallen cheaply to seam bowling, ensuring the middle order was cornered into reticence against Herath in each innings. They had collapsed in a similar fashion in the third innings against South Africa in Hamilton earlier this year, and might have lost the next Test at the Basin too, were it not for rain that had washed out almost a day of play.

The confidence among New Zealand's batsmen cannot be high, having failed against all types of bowling, and they must now regroup for the second Test, having lost five matches in a row - their worst run in 67 years. 

"That is not a nice stat to hear," Taylor said. "We have to put it right as soon as possible. It's going to be a difficult time in Colombo. We need to go at the Sri Lankans' score and our ability to take wickets will be crucial as well in the next Test."

It is difficult to see New Zealand leveling the series, but they will be playing on one of the most seam-friendly pitches on the subcontinent at P Sara Oval, and perhaps that will spur them to a better performance. New Zealand were once a dangerous side when cornered, but there is no fight in their game anymore. They must rediscover it, because on Galle's evidence, they will not win matches with their technique.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Kays789 on (November 22, 2012, 7:18 GMT)

@gnanzcupid.. why don't you go troll on the india vs england forums mate? clearly your indian team needs all the support they can get to show the world that they can in fact play test cricket. NZ on the other hand need to bank on their fast bowlers to make a game of it in the 2nd test. the pitches in SL are much more responsive now than they used to be. so they must make use of it. can't expect a huge improvement in their batting in the 2nd test to be honest.

Posted by SriSanka on (November 22, 2012, 3:18 GMT)

@gnanzcupid:- If minnows like India can beat England marginally at their back yard why not SL....comprehensively beat NZ......

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 21, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

its encouraging to see minnows like SL are pulling some exciting win.Though their luck cant help them in long run i believe. It will be interesting to have a test match contest of Bangladesh vs SL, or even Zimbabwe vs SL. SL will bite the dust in their series against bangladesh coming year

Posted by CricketMaan on (November 21, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

Where is CRICKET heading? Asians cant play absolute fast, pace bowling on green tops. Eng, NZ, SA and to some extent Oz can't play rank turners!!! Which is the team that can play in all conditions??

Posted by Sasnz on (November 21, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

I think the root problem lies with the head of NZ cricket, The team have no moral or belief that we can win anymore, John wright should have been a god send for us but the Head of NZ cricket John bucanon tied his hands so he couldnt do the job he wanted to do so he left after 18 months after winning for the first time on over a decade in Australia, Now we have a guy who's only international credentials is coaching Kenya for 4 months. I think the boys have just lost the motivation and desire to win because the inhouse camp just dosnt know what it is doing.

Posted by   on (November 21, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

In my honest opinion, the great NZ players like Cairns, Fleming, Astle retired WAY too early in their careers. Vettori is only in his early 30s and he's retiring from some forms of the game already!! Look at the likes of the true greats - Dravid, Ponting, Lara, Jayawardene, Tendulkar, Laxman all played well into their late 30s, and they used that time to mentor the younger players while consistently performing for the team to offset some of the poor performances by these younger players - that's how younger players are merged into a side.

Even some of the better performers in the team like Guptill, McCullum, and at times Taylor, are not up to international cricket level. And when these mediocre players are mixed with young players it's a recipe for disaster as we have here.

Posted by   on (November 21, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

i think nz needs leave out patel and try nathula and also bj watling in the test team i thought brownlie wasnt that bad either

Posted by sidekick45 on (November 21, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

hey all i think New Zealand cricket need to look at the older senior players and totaly make changes in there we need new young talent to try anf fight what have we got to lose nothing ppl say all this stuff about Kane Williamson but everyone has to have trust and faith in him he will have some bad times we all have them he will do well for nz. I also think that they need to get rid of guptil and have Bj Watling and mccullum or Jesse Ryder to open and williamson at no 3 and guys like James Franklin vittori mills martin and co need to step down and let playesr like Jacob Duffy adam milne jimmy neeshan Cory anderson and hamish rutherford and others need to have there chance we have neil wagner and southee and bracewell doing well please New Zealnd cricket alot are sad in watching tests because the way we have been playing. i think Ross Taylor is not doing well as captian and its effecting his batting

Posted by joseyesu on (November 21, 2012, 3:14 GMT)

Nz is almost an experienced side with Taylor, Mccullum, Guptil,Southee,Franklin. Just like India's famed batting line up lost to Eng and Aus, Nz are able to do the same in ASIA. Only SA and Aus have some good performance in ASIA.

Posted by RobTay14 on (November 21, 2012, 1:19 GMT)

@paps. McCullum has back issues and can't keep for five days, and if Watling came in the team he would be the one keeping, he is a wicket keeper himself.. Also, he was never in the Squad prior to the start of the tour, and it is mainly due to his good showing in the ODI's that everybody wants him there now, myself included, but unfortunately he isn't in the country anymore, as he wasn't on the test squad list before hand.

I think we do have the best team out there, except for Ryder and Watling not being included, and I think this team just needs to step up. In their defense it is always difficult for a Western team to play on a sub-continent pitch.

But still, was a real disappointment after we had managed to even the game up after the first innings. Here's hoping we do better in the second.

Posted by Mob_King on (November 21, 2012, 1:14 GMT)

5 losses in a row - what a dismal record. Unfortunately as a BCs supporter, I was suprised by this stat as I presumed we'd ratcheted up strings of defeats like this in the past ten years.

I don't know the answer to fixing NZC's woes, but I think Buchanan and Taylor should be held more accountable.

I don't think it helps for Fernando etc foreign media's patronising attitude about "Kiwi battlers" who excel when the chips are down - but are then demonised for not excelling when those chips are - yet again - down. (eg. "New Zealand were once a dangerous side when cornered, but there is no fight in their game anymore.")

Confidence has to be raised. Firm and distant goals must be resolutely struggled for and slow progress made. Only then can we be #3 in the world within 2 years, which I think is a solid, worthwhile and achievable goal.

Posted by Lermy on (November 20, 2012, 21:18 GMT)

At the end of the day this performance is about what should be expected of NZ at international level. They have some good domestic players, but not enough good international class players. Some selection policies are a bit mystifying, but whether bringing in other players would have made a difference is almost academic. If Jesse Ryder replaced a batsman with an average 10 below him, then by the law of averages NZ would have got another 20 runs in the game, big deal. I would hope NZ can perform better in the next test, but I'm not expecting them to be able to dominate SL enough to win. Still its a funny game, and I wonder whether half the people making comments here have ever played it. It's certainly not impossible for NZ to win a test, but it will be very hard for them. Still with some luck they could bowl SL out cheaply. Boult has to be consistently the most unlucky NZ bowler I have seen since Geoff Allott. If he & Southee fire they could easily roll SL twice.

Posted by thenoostar on (November 20, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

Lay off Franklin. He just needs time to establish himself as a batsman like Williamson has had. No complaints about Williamson and he is a very shaky starter. Not what you want from a no 3.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 20, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

Well NZ was too nervous I felt against the spinners. I do feel really sorry for NZ.

Posted by Sinhaya on (November 20, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

@S.Jagernath, sir please read the article and have a look at the schedule. Next test is at the P Sara Stadium where last 5 tests have ended in a decision. Forgot how Laxman scored a ton there in 2010? Forgot how England won the 2nd test at P Sara in April this year? Forgot how Sri Lanka beat SA by 1 wicket in 2006 and forgot how we beat India by 8 wickets in 2008, which too happened at the P Sara!! In Colombo there are 3 test venues by the way.

Posted by   on (November 20, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

Pathetic showing from NZ. Guptill sure looked well rested in his two innings, so if having rested players is the objective then the selectors are doing a good job. Also, what does making an example of Ryder achieve. Is the team spirit so great when you lose all the time. Also, sending how a form batsmen like Watling. NZ has to get a grip and work out how they are going to manage their slim resources.

Posted by Vikum72 on (November 20, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

@ S.Jagernath on (November 20 2012, 07:10 AM GMT): I would like to suggest you read the article before commenting. Next match is on P Sara Oval which is a sporting wicket with some assistance to the seamers, and not on SSC.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (November 20, 2012, 7:10 GMT)

Well New Zealand have nothing to worry about,they are heading to the SSC.It will be another run fest as usual.

Posted by stormy16 on (November 20, 2012, 6:37 GMT)

NZ batting issues is nothing new but I dont understand how they can go in to a test with Franklyn and van Wyk in the top 7 - that is playing with 5 specialist batters when your know the top order itself is a problem. Attacking the spinner is a reasonable plan but this requires skill - you can just sit on your crease and hit a quality spinner out of the attack. I think NZ have two issues starting with the senior batters in McCallum and Taylor failing and selection issues - they need 7 specialist batters. P Sara offers some hope for them if its seam friendly as it usually is but they still need to get runs on the board to stay in the game.

Posted by paps123 on (November 20, 2012, 6:32 GMT)

Why does not McCullum keep wickets and add another batsman like B J Watling who has been most impressive in WI and also here in SL in the ODI's. If AB Devilliers can do for SA, Prior can for ENG inspite of being such good batsman, what makes McCullum think he can decide whether to keep wickets or not. After all what is his Test average.... Is it better than Devilliers, Prior and so on. Either u keep wickets or carry the Drinks should be what Mike Hessen should say?

Posted by shwet14 on (November 20, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

NZ once had a stable batting line up in Fleming, Astle, Richardson, Matt Horne, Roger Twose. They were not World Class in their own capacity but always as a team they would punch above their weight. NZ cricketers , for reasons unknown to me, seem to retire in their early thirtees- Richardson was a gritty customer and could have gone on- Are they forced to do this due to economic reasons? The next generation of Taylor, Williamson, Guptill, Flynn are nowhere near their predecessors. What is worrisome is they clearly lack technique to face world class bowling. Generally NZ pitches & conditions aid seam / swing bowlers.In this scenario, one would expect NZ batsmen to be adept at playing seam bowlers, but it seems to have had a negative impact , what with their confidence getting shattered. My guess is NZs first class batting averages would be lowest among the test playing countries. Being a small country too doesn't help. You have a limited pool of players. Mr Buchanan what r u doing?

Posted by   on (November 20, 2012, 3:37 GMT)

It is a shame that we have such good young swing bowlers but no youthful spinners, everyone is either 27+ or an allrounder batsman.. The batting has been dissapointing for me to watch as a NZ fan, keep thinking someone is going to take the onus on themselves and play through 2-4 sessions but you just never see it happen with the exception of Flynn and he has not had the experience that Taylor or McCullum have.

Posted by beejaytee on (November 20, 2012, 0:21 GMT)

As mentioned briefly in the article, NZ need to find ways to rotate strike. Give a bowler like Herath or Narine or Ojha six shots in a row at you, and he'll get you before too long. Not the answer to all NZs batting woes, but it's a start.

Posted by Sanj747 on (November 19, 2012, 23:35 GMT)

What a pathetic show from New Zealand. Many issues and as most would say where do you start. Series losses to WIs, India and now SL looking a certainty are clear signs that the wheels have well and truly fallen off. Their next upcoming series is SAF away. Good luck. Changes to both players and management needed.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 22:36 GMT)

New Zealand is the greatest team n the world. Our Batsmen are all talented and will score hundreds upon hundreds for the next test. It was an awesome strategy to pretend to get out in this test so Sri Lanka think they are better than us. The next test we will score 1000. Go the Black Caps. I believe in you!!

Posted by mthw on (November 19, 2012, 20:13 GMT)

Gee, and then after this we play Sth Africa in South Africa and back to back series against England.. Its going to be a long 12 months for a NZ cricket supporter... Can someone please tell McCullum to put the gloves back on and bat 7... It wont sort all the problems but NZ always looked a stronger side with him batting at 7.. He's not good enough to be a long term test opener.. With Watling opening and McCullum at 7 our batting already looks stronger..

Posted by corzaNZ on (November 19, 2012, 19:32 GMT)

That was awful by NZ, only good thing is now they have 2 extra days to work it out. and first thing they need to do is select a proper team and bat them in the right position. McCullum shouldnt be opening, Franklin shouldnt be there along with Van Wyk and Guptill really needs to sort out his team game, he should of been rested for the tests not ODIs and T20s so he can go play first class cricket. team for the next game.. 1. Guptill 2. Flynn 3. Williamson 4. Taylor 5. Nicol 6. McCullum 7. Van Wyk 8. Astle/Wagner/Bracewell 9. Patel 10. Southee 11. Boult

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