The Test series is over and judging by the coverage you would think that it only featured one team. Alastair Cook this, Andy Flower that, Nick Compton the other. But without the Kiwis it would just have been a bunch of guys standing around looking at the clouds – something that Compton appeared to be doing most of the time anyway. Although the New Zealand tour continues, firstly with the One Day Internationals (don’t all dance at once), then the Champions Trophy and finally some T20s – by which time Ashes fever will be so high that people in England will be literally vomiting comparisons of Joe Root with Phil Hughes – it seems appropriate to pause now and consider the Test performances of the Kiwi men. And this time, we’ve not enlisted the help of rubbish footballers.
It may seem churlish to give someone such a low rating, but in this case, it is justified; he only escapes from getting a blob by the fact he did score some runs (36 whole runs) and it allows us to give someone else the accolade for worst player later in the article. Rarely are batsmen – proper batsmen – so one-dimensional in their scoring shots and it beggars belief that he scored two centuries in the Auckland Test.
Undoubtedly Rutherford has some excellent attacking shots – mostly to balls outside off stump – but a highest score of 42 and total of 82 runs is not sufficient for an opening bat. However remember him from his Dunedin days rather than from Leeds and you can see exactly what he can deliver. Moreover, one of the blasts through cover at Headingley literally had us sobbing into our gin, such was its raw power.
Although he did reach 50 at Lord’s, his series return was far below what was expected of him. It is fair to say that he is respected and talented – playing the ball late and adapting his technique where necessary – but his failings must be taken into account. Conversely, he’s only four months older than Joe Root, already played 22 matches and is vice-captain. The weight of a very mountainous country must be heavy on his shoulders – hence that rather undignified bowling action.
The only batsman to reach three figures (in total from the four innings) – the most telling statistic of this mini-series. Played two decent knocks, but as senior pro he ought to take a lot of the responsibility for the general inadequacy of the New Zealand totals: he was third man out in the first three innings and sixth to fall in the finale at Leeds.
No matter how good you are at catching, 55 runs from four innings is pretty pathetic in Test cricket – even if it was more than Matt Prior or Nick Compton made in the two matches. Tellingly, across the home and away legs, he made double figures six times from eight innings, but never more than 36.
Incredibly, made even fewer runs than Fulton. Redeems himself slightly by being a resourceful captain and doing well with the gloves. And by being a kind of hunky sort with dreamy eyes.
Unlucky to get injured and we feel that his character is a positive attribute for New Zealand. He looks to be a useful cricketer in the making, even if his main use is to reduce the pressure on McCullum at present.
Impressive with the new ball and full of beans even with the old, Southee looks to be developing into a very handy bowler. New Zealand have had decent bowlers in the past, but keeping enough of them fit at the same time has often been beyond them. Hopefully his toothy smile will be a regular sight for years to come. He could benefit from learning a few Mark Richardson-esque defensive batting shots and/or leaves though.
Not the demon spinner that England made him out to be, but he performed competently at Lord’s. No doubt batsmen less afraid of left-arm spin than the England boys will pulverise him into a soggy lump of carcass though.
At times Wagner bowled some beauties, and he was generally consistent, but he seemed to lack something. That he completely failed to sledge the opposition into defeat, despite heavy promises in advance, may have something to do with our distinctly underwhelming summary. Can whack the ball with the bat mind.
He was missed in the second innings at Headingley, leading to the question of whether Cook’s century would have been so inevitable had he bowled more than two overs? Consistently got the ball to swing and in an era of left-arm quicks, Bolt looks to be one of the best of the current lot. He seems a decent egg to us as well – and his ridiculous first name is offset by having Alexander as his middle name.
And here’s the big round zero.
And here’s the big round lump of lard.
So what can we conclude? The bowling was very good, the batting very poor – and no team can flourish when they struggle to make 200 every innings. There are several players who could contribute to a decent team, but this core need to be supported by the rest. And on the evidence, notwithstanding they were on top for a few days at Lord’s and could have won the home series, the rest just aren’t good enough.
*In no way do we mean to imply Peter Fulton has anything to do with marital abuse. It was meant as a pun based on his nickname and his vest. We don’t even know if he’s married.