In keeping with a spectacular week, Brendon McCullum didn’t bother to do any sort of homework on the Wellington wicket and promptly spent the entire day being ruthlessly bored to tears as punishment for his sins.
The television overlords were loathe to criticise McCullum for his decision, seemingly on the basis that they were once bowled out for peanuts having batted first so obviously he should never do it again; we shall not be so kind. It was a terrible choice for a long list of reasons, most notably the fact it was bright, sunny and the pitch was as flat as a pancake that’s been run over by Samit Patel. Add in that New Zealand’s bowlers had only three days off after being forced to trundle in for almost the entire second half of the Test in Dunedin and it becomes the sort of decision that should get the skipper sectioned. One imagines Ross Taylor’s dressing room popularity has soared over the past 12 hours.
Without wanting to plunge to Nick Knight levels of insight, winning the toss and subsequently being bowled out for 45 was obviously not very good; but they were already punished for such a performance by a thumping in that game. Instead of writing it off as a bad job, McCullum/the management seem to have decided to let it affect them in all future matches and may well have hurled the series away as a result.
Lunatic captaincy doesn’t completely exonerate the bowling, though. From the very off, either by accident or design, New Zealand’s first priority looked to be to stop England from running away with the game. A top three of Alastair Cook, Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott is glacially slow scoring at the best of times; when they were supplemented by over after over of bowling aimed somewhere near the point fielder the game ground to a halt. The pitches aren’t helping, but barring a couple of individual efforts in the first Test neither side has looked that interested in the art of ‘entertainment’ yet this series.
All that aside, it’s worth nodding in the direction of the aforementioned Compton and Trott, and bask in the glory of backing the former pre-series. Not that we’re smug or anything. If the first day is anything to go by, Trott may still be batting while the rest of the team heads to Auckland. New Zealand will need a much, much better second day if they are to have any chance in this game. Although we may need somebody to dig up the pitch and replace it with a new one to get any sort of excitement over the course of this match.