Cricket: Revamp needed after humiliation

By Andrew Alderson

With the last wicket taken, last scone scoffed and last cup of tea drunk at Lord's, it is time to read the remaining tea leaves to see how New Zealand adjust after a loss to England which unravelled some of the good work of the home series.

Three questions need addressing:

• Can BJ Watling keep wicket with his injured left knee?

• Should Martin Guptill return to bolster the batting?

• Is Doug Bracewell worth recalling as a fourth pace bowler at the expense of a specialist spinner?

The instinct is to stick with the status quo as much as possible. A 15-man tour party has been picked because they are supposedly the best test players from New Zealand. They deserve perseverance. However, a collapse for 68 from a potential winning position in a Lord's test also requires introspection.

If Watling can take the gloves then it seems foolish to panic and change an order which largely delivered in more batting-friendly New Zealand conditions.

The Hamish Rutherford-Peter Fulton combination looks fragile in England but both players have made two centuries against English attacks of late. Fulton made his in the third test at Eden Park; Rutherford scored his on debut in Dunedin and against the Lions at Leicester. The rest of the order warrants a reprieve.

If Watling is ruled out, Guptill could move to five, pushing Dean Brownlie to six and captain Brendon McCullum to seven and wearing the gloves for a one-off cameo.

Alternatively Tom Latham could debut as a batsman although questions remain whether he is ready for test glovework. Another alternative could be to debut Luke Ronchi. He is already on his way to England for warm-up one-day matches ahead of the Champions Trophy. However, regardless of his prolific Plunket Shield form - 807 runs at 62.07 and 38 dismissals - it sends a negative message to those already picked.

McCullum was circumspect on the topic with the test loss fresh.

"He [Guptill] comes into the reckoning but we've got to assess BJ as well and see how he's travelling. Tom or I could bat at seven and take the gloves, which could give us the luxury of playing another batsman at six.

"Without speaking to the selectors I imagine Ronchi would also come into the reckoning. It depends whether we feel Tom's ready to take the gloves in a test or whether the balance is right with me to go to seven.

"There's plenty of options. It's important to note that batsmen have done a good job for us in the most recent tests. I totally believe in this group. It's not panic stations just because of one poor batting performance.

"I think both top orders have struggled with the swinging ball. They're certainly not easy batting conditions, as the scores suggest. It's still important we remain consistent in how we go about things.

"After South Africa we stripped things back to look at the balance of our team and we've shown significant gains with that strategy. It would be foolish to throw that out now after one hour of mayhem."

Cloud cover and rain are in the Headingley long-range forecast although similar disruptions were predicted but never eventuated at Lord's. Bracewell shapes as a prospect if that occurs.

Pakistan used such conditions to their advantage at Leeds for a three-wicket win in the neutral 2010 test series against Australia. Convicted spot fixers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir worked their magic on that occasion.

If Headingley looks conducive to spin then the equation becomes more complicated with no other specialist spinner available. McCullum says that while not ideal, the solution lies in Britain.

"The ODI players are on their way so Dan [Vettori] certainly comes into the mix and Jeetan [Patel] is bowling well for Warwickshire [he took a five-wicket bag against Yorkshire last week] so he's in the mix too. There's also the four seamer option that we need to consider if conditions suit. We'll work it out closer to the time."

Vettori last played a test for New Zealand in July on the West Indies tour. Patel played and was dropped after the tour to South Africa.

Broad praises efforts of 'attack leader' Anderson

Man-of-the-match Stuart Broad routed New Zealand but insisted "attack leader" James Anderson was the man behind England's thumping 170-run first test win.

Fast-medium bowler Broad took a test-best seven for 44 as New Zealand were dismissed for just 68 in pursuit of a target of 239 to give the home side victory, with more than a day to spare.

Anderson, set to be England's key bowler when they bid for a third straight Ashes series win over Australia later this season, took five wickets in New Zealand's first-innings 207. In the course of that haul, Anderson became only the fourth England bowler to take 300 test wickets after Fred Trueman, Bob Willis and Ian Botham.

"It's a pretty special day for us, we wanted to make more of a contribution with the bat but we knew the ball was moving around," said Broad, who bettered his previous test-best of seven for 72 against the West Indies at Lord's last year.

"I've come away with seven wickets but Jimmy Anderson was the leader of this attack, he got five wickets in the first innings and I think he should be coming up to get this man-of-the-match award.

"It's a great way to start the summer, I love bowling here at Lord's."

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was left to bemoan a bad fourth day.

"It's a tough one to explain, I thought we had parity or dominated for long periods but we took a step backwards today," he said.

"The margin flatters England, but they bowled superbly in that hour before lunch which ripped the heart out of us."

-AFP

NZ's lowest totals

26 v England, Eden Park, 1955
42 v Australia, Wellington, 1946
45 v South Africa, Cape Town, 2013
47 v England, Lord's, 1958
54 v Australia, Wellington, 1946
65 v England, Christchurch, 1971
67 v England, Leeds, 1958
67 v England, Lord's, 1978
68 v England, Lord's, 2013

- NZ Herald

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