New Zealand cricket needs to hop on board the wrist spinner express and that means calling time on the career of the legendary and much admired Daniel Vettori.

The bright hope offered in Tasmania has descended into yet more dim cricketing days. South Africa is way too good, but that still doesn't excuse the wayward bowling and tame captaincy at the Basin Reserve.

From this layman's chair, boring is worse than losing, especially when you should be hellbent on a comeback to draw the series.

Ross Taylor's leadership has lacked inspiration and innovation when it counted, even given that he hasn't got the most astounding attack to work with. His medium-quicks let the side down, but Taylor let things meander.


Taylor is a terrific test batsman by New Zealand standards, and from a distance people would judge him to be a top bloke, something to which those in the know will attest.

But there is also an air that suggests an over-eagerness not to be eager which comes across as a poor man's Stephen "Chinos" Fleming. Taylor wants to appear in calm control, in demeanour and words, as if he's been there, done that, knows the score.

Unfortunately, this lack of adrenalin and angst has seeped into how New Zealand played. There were halfway-house field placings. Despite having their backs to the wall in the series, there was no spark, no devil, no up-and-at-em aggro when needed.

Vettori is deservedly a legend of our sport, but Vettori the bowler doesn't have a good enough history of rapier-like performances to justify all of the fuss. His average test average - nearly 34 runs a wicket - tells the story.

The veteran's sensational, middle-lower-order batting heroics have distracted the gaze from the poor bowling statistics. Further still, decades of New Zealand's intermittent reliance on line and length finger spinning has been a failed policy. Dallying with Vettori as a proper batsman also hinders developing a genuine No6, and we certainly need one.

A combination of traditional thinking and strange mental gymnastics thus bladed Trent Boult, a lively young seamer who looks like a wicket taker, offers the advantages of left-armer with a bit of speed and would have been more of a threat than Vettori.

Quite frankly, I'd ban orthodox finger spinning other than for supermarket carpark cricket, and order coaches or players to get the Murali Muralitharan and Shane Warne tapes out. Under this policy, finger spinners could apply for dispensations which would only be given scant consideration if they proved able to spin a ball square on cotton wool. Otherwise, pal, it's back to the carpark.

My childhood hero was the late, great Auckland left-armer Hedley Howarth, who gave the ball a lovely curve in the air. But even a star-struck kid quickly realised Howarth was more likely to play batsmen in than get them out in tests.


Murali broke the mould - some would say he also broke the rules - as a wristy offspinner. So we'd probably best go hunting for traditional leggies, of which there are a couple about. What we need is a yappy, cocky, bouncy, risk-taking, obsessive, wristy whiz who will take the odd bashing, come back for more, date famous film stars and give the headlines a good rattle and so on and so forth. Chutzpah is my word of the month, and we need a spinner who has that and who will create traditions which encourage it further.

Bottom line: the days of eulogising about hours and hours of line and length cricket are long gone.

(Desperate fans have been heard screaming "Brent Arnel" in the middle of the night). Time for a stand. Sheer speed, vicious seam, ripping leg spin, late swing, reverse swing - that's the go. If we're to go down, then do so in a blaze. This series was supposed to be a war but we've fought South Africa's impressive guns with a pea-shooter mentality.