Mathew Sinclair | 6:56am gmt 17 Feb 2009
It was a great case for the Black Caps to upset the world champs in their home territory but experience and a bit of Aussie determination foiled their attempts.
The Black Caps went over to Australia with high hopes of retaining the Chappell-Hadlee trophy. With the number of injuries that the current Australian team have been experiencing this young and inexperienced Black Caps team had a perfect opportunity to retain the trophy. No more do we see the likes of Hayden, Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath dominating with both bat and ball. A new combination and direction forced on the Australian team due to injuries and form.
Two fantastic first up wins mainly thanks to good fielding and smart bowling really woke up a sleeping giant. Fielding has always been a high priority in the Black Caps and they strive to be the best in the world at it. The days gone back with Steve Rixon as coach of the Black Caps rated fielding just as important as batting and bowling in the one day game. All it takes is a few great saves here and there putting pressure on the batsman to look at other areas of the field and generating a rash shot.
Adelaide was the start of where the Kiwis let a rampant and determined Aussie side come back and dent the hopes and confidence of the team. Stand out performances from Hussey right throughout his career just show what a talent this guy is and his stats reflect that. Grant Elliott carved out a fantastic big score but lacked major support from others at the top of the order to really test them in chasing more. Ross Taylor impressed me with his control of aggression and starting to look to bat the overs out and creating opportunities for the others to bat around him.
I thought in that game Brendon Diamanti should have played at the expense of Craig Cumming. Brendon gives Daniel Vettori more options with the bat and the ball and as we have seen with Hopes he can do a similar job just as effectively. The mixing up of bowling pace and slower balls on a slow wicket are crucial especially on the Adelaide wicket and Sydney Cricket Ground. Brendon with the bat is no slouch either. When the Stags have been in positions of needing quick runs and some one to clear the ropes I have always looked upon Brendon to do that job. He was finally given a game in Brisbane and although his two overs went for a few, thanks to a rampant Haddin in fine form, it could have all been so different if he was bowling to a new batter but he wasn't and was rightly taken off.
With the bat he showed with a bit of time in the middle what he can do in what ended up as a game dominated by the weather gods. Guptill I thought had a good series for his first tour outside of New Zealand. His strengths are very much dominated on the back foot and the bouncy wickets in Australia suit his style of play and at times wayward bowling from the Australians feeding what we say in cricket terminology his ONION. Vettori was the ever consistent bowler that we expect of him backed up with very little experience to call upon. Mills was impressive as well starting up with the ball and at the death bowling of an innings. New Zealand for as long as I have been playing for the Black Caps struggled to find a closing of the innings bowler. Not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination when batters are looking at hitting the ropes as well as batting power plays. Mills with his accuracy of yorkers and slower balls stalled at the best of times the Australians momentum forward.
The Twenty20 game was a great opportunity to at least come back to NZ with heads held high and claim a positive draw in the games played. Once again Haddin batting dominance and NZ batting smartness let them down. The thing I have found in this format of the game is that if you can execute yorkers and slower balls better than the opposition and create dot balls the chances of winning are higher. From a batting perspective the less balls that you face, with a higher runs tally gives your team greater chances of getting a big score. The Kiwis I believe let too many dot balls go through, putting pressure on the scoring rate. The run rate was very achievable right from the start but we let it slip in this instance coupled with good fielding and tight bowling to the conditions from the Australians.
Ian Butler was an interesting selection but one fully deserving of his chance at this level once again. His ability to hit the block hole bowling and hit the ropes with the bat testament to what has been a very good season for him so far. It almost looks like the selectors are now picking specialist Twenty20 players that are adaptable in any situation. Not a bad selection move and the likes of McGlashan, Franklin, Nathan McCullum have all performed domestically and rightly deserve their call ups.
So where to from now is the headache that faces this Black Caps team with the Indian series just around the corner. From a player looking in at this team, there have been some positives that can be taken away from this trip. A young and relatively inexperienced team has been put through quite a bit on and off the field. The Indians are one of the teams that on New Zealand conditions are out of their comfort zones and I couldn't think of a better time to really show them what we can do in our own back yard. The team has learnt so much and we need to start learning from our mistakes, we know we are hard to beat on our own territory and I can't see it being any different this time.