They weren't exactly facing Wa' />


That's how I felt watching the Black Caps lose 10 wickets in a session against Pakistan.

They weren't exactly facing Warne and McGrath either. No, instead they were up against an innocuous Pakistan attack on a docile wicket.

Disgraceful. Outrageous. Insane. Any test team who lose even four or five wickets in a session feel they've had a shocker.

Actually, most teams would be hard pressed to deliberately lose 10 wickets in a session.

You have to ask just how committed a side can be when they collapse that quickly.

Going into this series, I thought New Zealand would have the edge in a dust-up between two closely matched sides. After watching the Hamilton disaster, you could only predict that Pakistan will clean up at the Basin Reserve, which has a result wicket.

I can normally come up with a theory or two on most cricket matters, but I'm at an absolute loss in trying to analyse why the Black Caps have built up such a history of third-innings woes.

This strange problem stretches back about eight years.

All sides have their idiosyncrasies, but this goes way beyond that. Since I can't see a reason for the problem (batting conditions in the third innings are often close to as good as they get in a match), it's hard to suggest a solution.

But one thing is clear: New Zealand's test struggles continue to centre on the top-order batting, because we don't have players who can consistently score big centuries.

This is what sets the three leading teams - England, South Africa and India - apart.

Until we have players who can do this, we won't be in the test hunt. The Ashes series was an excellent example of how important this is.

Once again, the Ashes provided a brilliant spectacle, and way beyond what New Zealand and Pakistan are serving up. The first test in Hamilton was tough viewing, unfortunately. All the plaudits went to a largely unheralded Pakistan team who have a bit of talent and showed a much tougher attitude than we did.

* There are continual suggestions that Stephen Fleming, the former captain, should come on board in some capacity with the Black Caps. I'm certain Flem could make a brilliant contribution, but I doubt he would have the desire to be involved on a fulltime basis.

When I retired, and contemplated whether I might have a role as a commentator or coach, I decided that if I was going to be at the ground all day, I might as well keep playing. Someone like Flem, who has family commitments and business interests, is unlikely to be keen on the long international seasons and extensive touring.

Who knows though? Maybe he could play a part when the Black Caps are at home.