Tuesday 15 January 2013

Answers from Port Elizabeth

Before the test I write a piece about the questions New Zealand was going to face in Port Elizabeth.  Here's the questions, and the answers to those questions:

General question 1: How do they recover from the psychological disaster of Newlands? 

Answer: Not very well. The team looked defeated quite quickly.

General question 2: How will the bowlers respond to a slower pitch with very little likely to be on offer?

Answer: Not too badly, but they were still outclassed. There was some swing on offer, and Boult, Bracewell and Munro all made the batsmen work hard at the crease.  Wagner and Patel had some good moments, but neither of them will look back on this test with fondness.

General question 3: Will the batsman do as badly against swing as they did against seam movement?

Answer: Not quite, but almost. BJ Wattling was the stand-out, but only really because he was the only one playing with soft hands.  As a result when he edged the ball it went into the ground, not to a fielder.

 Specific questions:
  • Can Guptill find a way to rotate the strike? 
No - his 48 included 10 fours.
  • Will McCullum bat as responsibly on a pitch that’s slower? 
Yes. He batted well until Petersen turned up both times.
  • Will Williamson, Flynn and/or Franklin find a way to score as well as occupying the crease? 
No. Flynn didn't even occupy the crease.
  • Will Brownlie adapt to a slower pitch, where he can’t use the pace of the ball as easily? 
He wasn't as commanding, but he still batted well in the second innings.
  • Will Wattling recover his form that he has previously shown on slow tracks? 
Yes. He scored 63 in both innings.  Clearly the batsman in the best form in the NZ team.
  • Will Bracewell find a way to get out the better batsmen without getting much assistance from the pitch? 
Yes - this was a real improvement by Bracewell. He bowled as well as I've seen him.
  • If he plays, will Patel find a way to take wickets as well as containing the batsmen? 
No to both.  He took 1 wicket in almost 37 overs  and went at more than 3.5 an over.
  • Will Trent Boult be able to bowl in his first spell as well as he bowled in his third spell at Newlands, and will he be able to dislodge the tail-enders as well as the quality batsmen? 
No. He created some chances that didn't get wickets (a dropped catch, and a catch that should have been referred) but he looked a lot more threatening in his 3rd spell than in his first again.
  • If Neil Wagner plays, does he have the weapons to dislodge quality batsmen who are not frightened by his pace?
He did manage to find the edge of Graeme Smith's bat a number of times, but he just wasn't consistent enough to really build pressure.  He is a capable bowler, but hasn't really shown it at test level yet.

Overall the New Zealanders failed to answer the questions that this test asked of them, and as a result were soundly beaten.

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