Cricket: Wonderful result, but changes still needed

By Dylan Cleaver

Black Caps coach John Bracewell may still come under pressure to make changes in time for Sri Lanka's visit in the New Year. In spite of last night's world record run chase, Bracewell must still be worried about the side's second consecutive meltdown at the bowling crease.

Brilliant though the chase was, it was a world record because Australia scored a massive 331-7. New Zealand will not be wanting to chase too many totals of 300-plus.

Captain Dan Vettori said it was almost a case of back to the drawing board for the death bowlers as Australia pummelled 72 off the last overs.

"I think it has to be. I mean, the last two games were a bit disappointing," he said.

Sure, the wickets were good, but New Zealand's bowlers missed their lengths. "And they missed them consistently," Vettori said. "All you ask in the final overs is to find the blockholes and restrict them to twos. If they get away with a four, that's fine, but the ones that leave the building are the tough ones to swallow. We need to find a way to shore those final overs up."

While everybody got caught up in the romance of such an improbable chase on Wednesday, Adam Parore delivered the most sober judgement on the result - he said it was worse than the 147-run humiliation a week ago in Auckland.

That was an aberration, he believed, while Wednesday was incontrovertible evidence that New Zealand had a problem of blowing games.

While that judgement might look flawed after last night, it is still valid in that he could easily have been referring to the first two matches of the recent series in South Africa - a series the Black Caps lost 0-4.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting paid homage to Brendon McCullum after the match and said the pitches in Wellington and Canterbury were the best he'd ever played on in New Zealand. "McCullum's innings was amazing," he said. Ponting also criticised Australia's bowling, saying: "It was a disappointing and inexperienced performance."

Even after the euphoria of last night, Black Caps most under threat are Craig McMillan and James Franklin.

Hamish Marshall might be best helped by some time at State Shield level. James Marshall's hold on a spot also looks fragile while Jacob Oram's bowling looks a shadow of its former self.

Replacements might not be immediately obvious but that's the job of a selection panel.


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