Cricket: Five lessons from the second test

By David Leggat

Senior cricket writer David Leggat looks at five key lessons for the Black Caps following the washed out second test.

1 Bruce Martin
The veteran spinner can't be accused of not grabbing his chance. He's taken nine wickets in three innings. Good wickets, too. He's got through 146 overs and been amply rewarded. Throw in resolute batting at No9 and it's been a cracking fortnight for the 32-year-old. An England tour could beckon. The short-term future looks distinctly brighter for "Bucko" than it did a month ago.

2 Opening consistency
Hamish Rutherford's 171 on debut at Dunedin notwithstanding, the issue of consistency remains. He was worked over at the Basin Reserve, but lessons will be being absorbed. He's in for the long haul. Peter Fulton has a 55 and a 45 in the second test, alongside one miss in Wellington. He's done pretty well but he made the point this week: "It has been okay, but I guess I am under no illusion that you need big scores if you're going to bat at the top of the order." Well put.

3 Weathering it
England's bowling coach David Saker's point about flat pitches for the first two tests was a fair one. However, it's worth remembering that at Dunedin more than a day was lost to rain. It equated to about 100 overs. In Wellington a possible 153 overs were lost altogether. A decent argument could be made that - morticians' slabs or not - this series could still be sitting at 1-1 rather than 0-0.

4 Swing man
Tim Southee is the leader of New Zealand's attack. His figures in the series: 83-20-216-1. Throw in a wasted wicket in the first innings at Wellington, caught hooking at long leg fifth ball when support for BJ Watling was needed to avoid the follow-on, and it hasn't exactly been a stellar series thus far. He ever-so-slightly bristled when asked after the first day if all was well. He'll be in England in a few weeks where conditions should be to his liking. But he needs a strong Eden Park test to reassert himself.

5 Luke who?
BJ Watling was impressive in South Africa, then out first ball not offering a shot in Dunedin, but showed his qualities with a solid 60 in Wellington. There are three 60s in his last four innings. His average is slowly rising, his glovework improving (though on another day, his miss of Kevin Pietersen could have proved costly). Luke Ronchi may be the best pure gloveman in the country, but his challenge, for now, is being seen off.

- NZ Herald

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