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Cricket: Listless NZ need to get good tonic

Struggling Black Caps look to overcome bad case of wobbles before second test
Brendon McCullum. Photo / Getty Images
Brendon McCullum. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand cricketers face a test of their mettle to send retiring captain Brendon McCullum off in style from the second test against Australia starting on Saturday at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

An innings and 52-run loss yesterday ended an undefeated home streak stretching back to a March 2012 draw against South Africa.

More significant was the recurrence of symptoms which indicate they again suffered a dose of wobbly first test syndrome.

Normally the ailment pops up in foreign climes, such as Cape Town in 2013, Lord's in 2013 and 2015, Abu Dhabi in 2014 and Brisbane last year. The fever can restrict movement in the limbs, bats can accidentally be employed too far away from the body or across the line, and balls can seem bigger than they are. The team often incurs a defeat, but recovers strongly over the series. It's a common complaint that tends to repair itself through an injection of net practice and limiting the intake of fringe elements on talkback radio or social media.

Craig McMillan on The Sauce:

McCullum has prescribed his usual medicine, despite losing three of four tests to Australia this summer.

"It's not a reinvent-the-wheel situation, but we've got to tidy up a few areas."

The captain said the burden of approaching his final test was taking its toll.

McCullum seems to be under almost an unofficial contract to play, given the marketing campaign surrounding his farewell. His back looks to be troubling him, although he has signed to play T20 franchise cricket in India, England and the West Indies this year, so those suggestions could be premature.

"I don't think it's ever out of your mind," McCullum said of his final test. "I'll be playing for the same reasons and with the same ambitions throughout my test career. I'll try to enjoy it knowing I won't be in that dressing room again."

Naturally, McCullum believed they still had the capability to beat Australia, and rightfully so, given they came within three wickets and an unidentified Nathan Lyon hotspot in Adelaide.

"Over the last while we've always said we're not afraid of losing, but we're going to make it difficult for the opposition to beat us.

"That's the most disappointing aspect of this [first test loss], we weren't in the game for as long as we wanted to be.

"[From a personal perspective] innings of 0 and 10 are not ideal. You come into the game with huge expectations and you want to do well. Sometimes the game doesn't marry up to the ambitions you have."

McCullum said the New Zealanders had been impressed by the rise of Josh Hazlewood, their pace nemesis in Wellington.

"He's developed quickly. He's an excellent bowler who has made adjustments in different conditions to get results. He will be a guy who, when we turn up at Hagley, we need a method to keep out of the game."

- NZ Herald

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