Five successive test losses; is it time to throw the hands up and acknowledge New Zealand's current players simply aren't much chop?

The hard evidence shows the depth of the hole New Zealand are in, and South Africa, on their turf, and England at home - world's No1 and 2 at present - are next up for this under-performing lot.

The abject capitulation on the third morning of the opening international against Sri Lanka at Galle this week again raised questions over both the technical and mental capacity of New Zealand's batsmen.

The bowlers, led by Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who strove to get New Zealand back into the match after a lame first innings batting effort, effectively had their efforts thrown back in their faces.


In one sense, the fact Sri Lanka's openers Thuranga Paranvitana and debutant Dinuth Karunaratne eased to the target of 93 in 18.3 overs without loss was a good thing.

It removed the excuse-in-waiting that the pitch was overly demanding.

There were no escape routes for batsmen who simply hadn't a clue against good quality spin - and at times seam bowling - on a pitch that was far from mischief-making.

It was dispiriting viewing. How many ways can international batsmen find to get out? New Zealand's group deserved full marks for giving it a decent crack.

Should fans just accept that the best players in the country - and there are precious few names back home who could be put forward as players who should be out there - are not up to it?

The manner in which the wickets fell certainly didn't suggest a team plan to sell their wickets with any sort of desperation. You wonder how much they hurt about it all. Even their own chief executive is questioning the ease with which the batsmen slid down the drain on Monday night.

At least we've not heard the infuriating old "that's just the way he plays" line this time.

Change for the second test later this week in Colombo?

The two most vulnerable are James Franklin and Doug Bracewell. Franklin, good limited-overs player but a passenger in Galle, has to go; the promising Bracewell is skating a fine line with 10 wickets in the five losses costing 53.8 apiece.

Replacements? Rob Nicol, found sorely wanting against South Africa in his two tests this year, or legspinning allrounder Todd Astle, on his first trip, for Franklin; Astle or veteran Chris Martin for Bracewell.

Any alterations seem superficial - the problems are far deeper than merely moving the deckchairs.