New Zealand cricket fans who feel the sky is falling on their heads because the Black Caps and White Ferns are horribly out of their depth have no idea how worse things can be.

Early this month I went through the turnstiles at the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch India make a mockery of Australia in the fifth and final test match and was stunned to find how demoralised the host spectators were.

The smattering of green-and-gold faithful, who bothered to turn up, didn't have to say a word — the collective apologetic expression they wore on their faces spoke volumes of where the Ockers are in a country where cricket is officially the No 1 code.

The sandpaper-gate scandal has robbed the nation of any sheen they had left and, dare I say it, it'll take some time for them to walk tall again in the international arena.


While catching a domestic flight from Sydney to Brisbane, a retired shearer/restaurateur, John Manoels, was still simmering and felt disgraced former captain Steve Smith and fellow batsmen David Warner and Cameron Bancroft had got away with a rap on the knuckles for bringing the country into disrepute with the ball-tampering fiasco in South Africa in March last year.

And don't even get the 78-year-old avid social golfer from Adelaide started on ex-skipper Greg Chappell who, in February 1981 in the World Series Cup final at the MCG, instructed younger brother Trevor to bowl the last ball underarm to deny New Zealand a chance of scoring a six to tie the game.

"I'll never forgive that [expletive] until the day I go to my grave and many Aussies here still feel that way," Manoels said before shaking my hand as we parted ways.

What I'm saying is the Black Caps look like fish out of water but all is not lost as India continue to make them look like schoolboys.

It was blatantly obvious after the Napier opener last Wednesday the Gary Stead-coached Black Caps weren't going to cut it, even with the home-turf advantage.

After three ODIs on Monday, captain Kane Williamson accepts India are teaching them a lesson and things aren't hunky dory.

India, on the other hand, have ticked another box after historic accomplishments in Australia to fulfil their tour obligations under captain Virat Kohli.

Frankly the tourists won't lose sleep over the remaining two dead-rubber ODIs and three hit-and-giggle affairs before the impending ICC World Cup in England from May 30 to July 14.


Regrettably one cannot say the same of New Zealand who have to come to terms with slow wickets promoting spinners ahead of seamers.

I recall returning home from Aussie two Saturdays ago to read about how the Black Caps weren't savvy enough to beat India but could put Australia to the sword. Say what?

That, frighteningly, sounds like Brendon McCullum talking up the Black Caps' chances before capitulating in the 2015 World Cup final at the MCG.

Scribes need to stop elevating Black Caps to world-class status every time they post figures on a diet of second-tier nation campaigns and a false economy at home.

Fans must also stop pulling out the underdogs card, based on our population and resources when juxtaposed with elite nations, when things go awry.

It's okay to accept that teams are better than New Zealand before channelling the collective energy to what can be done to improve one's lot rather than liberally sprinkle excuses on mediocrity in trying to justify ineptness.

Believe it or not, a lot of problems stem from the Mike Hesson era when McCullum's aggressiveness was preferred over the common sense of deposed leader Ross Taylor.

Consequently Taylor's "brutally honest" admission the Black Caps "just haven't been up to it" against India was long overdue in the face of overwhelming evidence.

I alluded to it several times before and I reiterate now — the formula on allrounders to cover batting and bowling bases, to the extent that it is becoming a rock for cricketers to crawl under when they underachieve, is terribly flawed.

Lift the half slip on the naked truth, I say, to identify genuine bowlers who bring a spectrum of attributes to a collective arsenal in the equation and batsmen who are specialists.

Erase the pressures of T20 cricket in trying to exploit the powerplay overs by simply respecting quality opposition bowling attacks in rotating the strike.

Batting coach Craig McMillan and Williamson's response to batting collapses, especially to India spinners, smacks of a McCullum-esque mindset and, indubitably, a futile exercise to dismiss the art of playing tweakers as a case of mind over matter.

Recognising how the ball comes out of the hand of a tweaker early enough to detect the flight and drift to play with or against the spin requires dexterity.

Scoring runs is the job of the top seven batsmen but, it seems, bowlers become sacrificial lambs more than the former.

A common thread is openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro departing for next to nothing so why not simply promote Williamson and Taylor to face the new ball since they are coming in so early?

The one-hit wonders (Guptill) and specialists in nothing (Mitchell Santner — a bowler who bats or vice versa?), who rock up against the Bangladeshis (watch their spin) of the world with the promise of fours and sixes, should drop to play a spent ball or simply make way for others. Ditto speed merchants who lack the discipline of line and length of the Gavin Larsen mould of the yesteryear.

To chuck in bowlers willy nilly against world beaters weeks before the world cup is myopic and grossly unfair. To dismiss them after a couple of games as inexperienced is draconian at best. Don't forget, England conditions can also be a seamer's paradise.

Akin to BJ Watling, Tom Latham needs to sharpen his wicketkeeping skills to spinners or else a specialist should be sought.

Why isn't Canterbury captain Frances Mackay bolstering the White Ferns' batting and bowling line-up in the one-sided losses to the touring India women side this month? Photo / Photosport
Why isn't Canterbury captain Frances Mackay bolstering the White Ferns' batting and bowling line-up in the one-sided losses to the touring India women side this month? Photo / Photosport

Suggestions of 50 or 70 more runs after losses are baseless because untested India, who have yet to shift gears from cruise mode, adopt different approaches (as India women grafters Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj did yesterday, leaving behind egos to chase down a small total after openers departed cheaply).

With Kohli leaving, MS Dhoni benched and Ajay Jadeja yet to play, "India A" will experiment with their internationals in waiting.

Dispel also the perpetual myth on who else is there to replace the Black Caps incumbents.

Coach Heinrich Malan's NZ A tour players didn't just go to the subcontinent on a diplomatic mission.

If the writing is on the wall then why not expose some of the successors to the global stage for the next big outing rather than trying to prove the doubters wrong.

To suggest batsmen William Young and George Worker, and seamer Blair Tickner have to post domestic figures for consecutive seasons, akin to spinner Ajaz Patel, is a total cop out.

Opening batsman Suzie Bates, yesterday, trying to analyse what's amiss in the White Ferns' blueprint with inform Frances Mackay sitting next to her in the TV commentary panel goes a fair way to explaining what's wrong with the New Zealand cricket landscape.