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New Zealand's marks out of 10, for the Test series against Sri Lanka
November 30, 2012
Tim Southee (12 wickets at 13.83, 55 runs)
Could this be Tim Southee's break out series? In Galle he swung the ball so mightily most of Sri Lanka's top batsmen couldn't get near it. At the P Sara, there wasn't much swing to be had, but his wrist position ensured he gleaned every inch of movement available, and his line kept testing the batsmen's technique. Often sharp, always hungry, on this series' evidence he can be an effective spearhead for New Zealand in the years to come. The challenge for him now, is to produce this type of performance consistently.
Trent Boult (9 wickets at 15.11)
Didn't quite achieve Southee's movement in the air, but Trent Boult will know he contributed significantly to his partner's success, and the team's victory, through the pressure he created. As good as his figures are, they don't quite do justice to his effect on the series. He was the most disciplined seam bowler from both teams and his effort never dipped, even with the old ball. New Zealand would do well to continue investing in him.
Ross Taylor (243 runs at 60.75)
A poor first Test, but a stellar second. Taylor seemed to have completely retooled his approach to batting at the P Sara, and reaped 216 runs there as a result. Often over aggressive against spin, he did not hit a boundary off the spinners until after he had reached his hundred in the first innings, and hit two fours in total in his second innings 74. His captaincy has been under scrutiny for some time now, but he epitomised New Zealand's desperation to end their losing streak, and has perhaps earned some respite from his detractors.
Kane Williamson (163 runs at 40.75)
Williamson is most naturally capable player of spin bowling in the New Zealand side, and he certainly played spin well during his first innings 135 at the P Sara. He picked Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv early, and was unruffled when the runs were not forthcoming. He must become more consistent in the months to come, having only scored one fifty since his match-saving ton against South Africa in March, but for this series at least, he has performed admirably. Gets an added point for snatching two of the finest catches any gully fielder will take.
Daniel Flynn (126 runs at 31.50)
One trying fifty in the first match, and the only batsman who had any idea how to play Rangana Herath effectively in the third innings there. He backed that up another solid half-century to consolidate on Taylor's stand with Williamson in the second Test. Perhaps not the most talented batsmen in the side, but one who is willing to show the application that might see him become a successful batsman at the Test level.
Brendon McCullum (120 runs at 30.00)
A defiant half-century in the first innings in Galle, and a belligerent 35 in the second innings in Colombo when New Zealand were after quick runs were McCullum's contributions to the series. He was the victim of a poor lbw decision in one innings, and played an unnecessary stroke to have himself caught at deep midwicket in another. All in all, not a bad series for him, though he knows he must increase his output with the bat now that he is a specialist batsman in Tests.
Jeetan Patel (4 wickets at 36)
Was rarely a wicket-taking threat, highlighted by a wicketless fourth innings in Colombo, as his side was chasing victory. There was no obvious flaw in his game, save the fact that there simply was not enough turn to trouble good players of spin bowling. With Daniel Vettori's powers on the wane, Patel has an opportunity to embed himself in the side as the long-term spinner, but he has so far not taken it. He did not allow easy runs however, and at times, built on the pressure the seam bowlers created.
Todd Astle (1 wicket at 97, 38 runs at 19)
Not a terrible debut given that he did contribute to the victory, but he was also largely ineffective with the ball, save for one ripper of a delivery that dismissed Prasanna Jayawardene on day five. He was guilty of too many full tosses and long hops, even for a rookie legspinner, but he did make a good 35 in New Zealand's second innings, after three wickets had fallen in four balls and a collapse looking likely.
Doug Bracewell (2 wickets at 79.5)
He is yet to live up to the promise of Hobart, and as the pitches have not been particularly conducive to seam movement in Sri Lanka, he has struggled to penetrate. Bowled a few spells with good energy, but didn't sustain it long enough to make a breakthrough. He did remove Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara on the fourth evening in Colombo (though Sangakkara's dismissal was more a result of good fortune than skill), but was back to being less effective the following day.
Kruger van Wyk (41 at 13.66, 4 catches)
A pair in the second Test does not bode well for his future in the side, and BJ Watling, who has been impressive in limited-overs cricket, may get a recall to the Test side for New Zealand's tour of van Wyk's native South Africa. His keeping was sharp however, and no chances went down on his watch despite the low bounce in Galle in particular.
Martin Guptill (39 at 9.75)
Was rested for the ODI leg so that he could be fresh for the Tests, but could not get beyond 13 in any of his four innings. He had plundered runs at the beginning of the year, but seems short of confidence, and has a number of technical issues to correct as well. Gains half a point for his fielding and a good diving slip catch to dismiss Angelo Mathews in the first innings in Colombo.
James Franklin (5 runs at 2.5, 1 wicket at 31)
Awful first Test for him, after which he was dropped for Astle. Made a painstaking 3 from 43 balls in the first innings before being stumped for 2 in the second. His biggest contribution was the removal of Mathews in Sri Lanka's first innings.
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondentFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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