Three of New Zealand’s senior players-Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Martin Guptill-were under pressure Thursday as coach Mike Hesson reviews what went wrong in the 2-0 series hiding by Australia.
Australia won the second Test on Wednesday by seven wickets to go with their innings and 52-run win in the first Test.
In a telling summer for New Zealand, they lost four and drew one in home and away series against Australia-now the top-ranked side in the world-while they won a home series against the lower ranked Sri Lanka 2-0.
Southee and Boult, both listed among in the world’s top 10 bowlers, were unable to conjure up the same rhythm and swing that has made them a devastating partnership.
They took two wickets apiece in Australia’s sole innings of 562 in the first Test. In the second Test, where Australia produced scores of 505 and 201-3, Boult took three wickets from a total of 48 overs while Southee took just one from 32.
In that second innings, Matt Henry was preferred ahead of Southee to take the second new ball.
“I think there will be,” Hesson said when asked if he would face selection headaches in the post Brendon McCullum era.
“Tim and Trent for two years have been exceptional for us but we have different guys in the squad who do different things,” Hesson said, singling out Neil Wagner for his 6 for 106 in the first innings of the second Test.
“He brings a different option. Dougie Bracewell is a bit different, as is Matt Henry, so within those five we have got, we should be able to get a pretty good attack in all conditions around the world.
“The beauty of Neil is that he makes things happen, even on benign surfaces, where we play the majority of our cricket, he does generate wicket-taking opportunities.”
‘Minor’ changes –
New Zealand’s batting was also under the microscope. Guptill scored a century in the first Test against Sri Lanka but in four innings against Australia he scored 45 in one and a just 36 in the other three combined.
“Martin still hasn’t quite nailed it at Test level but again we think he has some good qualities. No doubt we need to tweak a few things but we still have a lot of confidence in Martin,” Hesson said.
New captain Kane Williamson is a more precise cricketer and reserved person than the charismatic, risk-taker McCullum, who has retired, and Hesson said that would mean changes.
“We have had a style of play that has served us well over a period of time but with a new captain we will have some changes there but they will be minor. I think we will have the majority of the same group,” he said.
“We have got quite a few starts in this series but have been put under pressure by the moving ball.
“When it’s reversing it tends to swing later and swing both ways so that challenges you from a scoring point of view and obviously from getting big scores. That’s something we need to do.
“From a bowling point of view we are going to have to create more opportunities on flat wickets.”