Cricket: Victorious Black Caps not getting carried away

By Michael Brown

Many New Zealand cricket fans have a love-hate relationship with the national side and their mood swings as wildly as the Black Caps' fortunes.

That oscillation was no better illustrated than in the past fortnight when New Zealand turned around an embarrassing 10-wicket defeat - appropriately enough in Galle - to comprehensively outplay Sri Lanka in Colombo in the second test to win by 167 runs.

Fans are experienced enough to know they shouldn't get carried away by last night's victory and, crucially, nor do the team. They planned to enjoy the moment, yes, but didn't suddenly believe they were world beaters.

"It's one victory, we don't want to get too carried away, but we've got to enjoy the moment,'' captain and man-of-the-match Ross Taylor said afterwards.

"We just need to be more consistent going forward.''

That is the true measure.

Before last night, the Black Caps last tasted success in January against Zimbabwe. Prior to that it was in Hobart against Australia 12 months ago.

That result was trumpeted as a harbinger of future success but that, quite clearly, didn't happen.

They went into the final test in Colombo knowing another defeat would be a record-equalling sixth-straight loss and the prospect of turning that around looked bleak given their next assignment was against the world's No 1 side South Africa in the Republic.

They have on their hands, however, a promising bowling attack and that hasn't always existed in recent times.

"The batsmen have got a lot of criticism over the time but we haven't really had the bowlers to get 20 wickets in a few of the test matches,'' Taylor said.

"But the three we've got at the moment, the three quicks, are very exciting and raw and I guess in test match cricket that's an exciting path.

"You've got to give credit to Tim Southee. He led the bowling lineup very well and Trent Boult has still only played a handful of games but he continues to improve every match. Even the two wickets that Doug Bracewell got in this innings were two crucial wickets. [Kumar] Sangakkara and [Mahela] Jayawardene can bat a couple of days if they want to and it was nice to get them out early.''

Southee's turnaround has been remarkable. He was dropped from the side during the home series against South African but is now clearly the side's No 1 strike bowler.

Something changed in Bangalore, where he collected career-best figures of 7-64 and he's now snared 20 wickets in the last five innings. Against Sri Lanka, not traditionally seen as a place seam bowlers thrive, he picked up 12 wickets at an average of 13.83 and has helped his overall average that was in the 40s dip to 35.04.

Crucially, he has a foil in Trent Boult. The 23-year-old has bowled better throughout his young test career than his figures often show but he was rewarded with eight wickets in Colombo where he bowled with intelligence and penetration.

The good thing is Taylor has options beyond his new ball pair. Doug Bracewell hits the deck hard, Neil Wagner and Mark Gillespie are wicket-takers and the likes of Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan show promise. It's an increasingly congested landscape that leave veterans Chris Martin and Kyle Mills more vulnerable than before.

The team will have only a couple of weeks in New Zealand before they head to South Africa and confidence will have returned. Taylor will also feel more comfortable as captain.

His position has continually been under scrutiny and reports suggested it would be discussed at board level on the team's return from Sri Lanka. Captaincy, however, becomes a lot easier when you score runs as an individual and the team performs as a whole.

"Hopefully this is the start of something,'' Taylor said.

It's every fan's hope.

- APNZ

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