Cricket: Kiwi bowlers get tough on batsmen

By Mark Geenty

ADELAIDE - The message was loud and clear for New Zealand's cricket batsmen, both on and off the Adelaide Oval practice pitches.

Not long after senior paceman Chris Martin outlined the "massive challenge" for his top-six to lift their games for tomorrow's second test against Australia, the New Zealand pace quartet gave their teammates a searching net workout.

Opener Jamie How bore the brunt, and was cracked a fearful blow on the helmet by young paceman Tim Southee as he tried to duck a bouncer.

How wanted to continue his session but coach John Bracewell and medical staff ushered him out of the nets to be checked, and he was later cleared of any head injury.

Iain O'Brien and first test drinks carrier Mark Gillespie also had the batsmen, including likely recall Peter Fulton, hopping about the crease as they charged in under the warm late afternoon sun.

Martin was more measured as he nursed a bruised thigh courtesy of a Mitchell Johnson thunderbolt in Brisbane, but made it clear more was expected of the batsmen after their 149-run defeat at the Gabba.

"The challenge is still pretty massive for us. Adelaide is renowned for its batting and its runs and after our performance in the last game there'll be a certain amount of anxiety and pressure to come through with the bat on this wicket," Martin said.

"It hasn't been overplayed, it's just been recognised as something we've really got to get right against this side.

"We know how close we came in that last game. All we needed was a couple of guys to stand up with the bat and we would have put them under a lot more pressure. This is another opportunity for those guys to do that."

In the batting lineup, Fulton looks likely to come in for his eighth test, probably at No 5, with Brendon McCullum shifting down to No 7 and allrounder Grant Elliott missing out.

The bowling may well be unchanged, with offspinner Jeetan Patel only an outside chance to be considered as captain Daniel Vettori's backup on a pitch rated by the curator Les Burdett as likely to offer turn and bounce.

The tourists are again given no chance after they flirted with an upset at the Gabba, and were paying $11 to level the series with TAB Sportsbet, with Australia at $1.33 and the draw at $4.

But Martin, who led a spirited effort by New Zealand's bowlers who claimed 20 wickets in Brisbane, took inspiration from the Kiwis' World Cup rugby league final upset against the Kangaroos in the same city last Saturday.

"I don't know whether the New Zealand rugby league team were wandering out thinking they were going to beat Australia but they managed to scrap and fight and took the game to the last 20 minutes where they dominated.

"For us it's a matter of getting to that fifth day where against any side, and especially against this Australian side these days, we can make an impression on that last day."

All the focus was on the Australian side yesterday as spinner Jason Krejza sprained ankle ligaments at fielding practice and was rated doubtful, with one-test New South Wales offspinner Nathan Hauritz called in as cover.

And allrounder Andrew Symonds fronted a packed press conference with captain Ricky Ponting and Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland to explain his pub scuffle. He escaped censure and was cleared to play after an over-zealous fan was found to be the instigator.

But Martin didn't see any extra chinks to exploit in the home lineup.

"He doesn't appear like a vulnerable sort of guy to me," he said of Symonds.


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