Mind the Windows debutante Emma Selley looks at the recent two-Test series between New Zealand and Australia, where the Kiwis were unable to prevent an Australian whitewash in Brendon McCullum’s farewell series.
Emma has rated each of New Zealand’s players out of ten, comparing Kane Williamson to Tom Latham, and Latham to Neil Wagner and every man in between. Do you agree?
After Australia hosted the New Zealand team for a Test series in late 2015, it was the underdogs’ turn to have their neighbours over for a couple of games of cricket, and possibly payback for the 2-0 series loss. Australia were missing some of their stars from the previous series, but their replacements proved more than worthy as they both out-bowled and out-batted New Zealand.
In the first match at Wellington, Australia made the most of McCullum’s inability to win the toss, and bowled the home team out for 183. Aside from this innings, New Zealand’s batting was reasonably solid for the rest of the series, but the same couldn’t be said for their bowling. Until Neil Wagner’s heroics in the second match, none of the bowlers particularly shone (although they took some impressive catches and provided runs down the order).
The other star performance of the series also came in the second match, and was, of course, Brendon McCullum’s record breaking century. Being his last series before retirement, it was an emotional couple of weeks for him and the team – it was unfortunate that they couldn’t send him off in style, but they struggled to bowl their opposition out and Australia deserved to win the series 2-0.
It is a shame that New Zealand rarely get to indulge in a three-Test series, and often you are left wondering what could have happened in a non-existent third match. However, in this instance, no one has to spend too long pondering the result the number one-ranked Test team would likely have procured from one more game.
Martin Guptill – 3/10
As opener, he had to face the toughest of the seaming conditions, and struggled to deal with them. He did manage to make 45 in Wellington, but the other scores of the series were negligible. Fielding, however, was excellent as always, and he took three catches in the second match.
Tom Latham – 6/10
Apart from the very first innings of the series, he did a decent job of opening the batting and seeing off most of the new ball. His best show of endurance came in the second innings of the first Test where he scored 63 from 164 balls and combined with Martin Guptill for a century opening stand.
Brendon McCullum – 7.5/10
The occasion of his 100th consecutive Test may have got to him, as 10 was the highest score he could manage in the first match of the series. In the next game, he managed to channel the nerves of impending retirement into his well-documented world record fastest century. He even tried to get himself listed in the all-rounder category by sending down four overs of medium pace for only three runs. Though the game turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax, he did manage to end his career fittingly in one way – with a ridiculous field-set in place.
Henry Nicholls – 5.5/10
A tough opponent to make your Test debut against, but he held his nerve and compiled a quality half century in the first Test. The following game resulted in far less success for him, but he did show promising signs that he could fill a space in the middle order that has been left empty by McCullum’s departure.
BJ Watling – 7/10
Has maintained his position as the quiet achiever of the team, especially in the last match of the series. No notable innings in the first match, but his next two scores were both over 40. Behind the stumps, he continued to be a solid performer and made no significant errors.
Kane Williamson – 6.5/10
Light on runs this series – certainly by his standards. Didn’t look quite himself in the first Test, but he battled hard in the second. He may have only scored seven runs in the first innings, but he stayed in for a trying hour and a half, which allowed McCullum to have a swing in less testing conditions. Williamson’s hard fought 97 against quality reverse swing in the second innings should put fans’ minds at ease after a few less substantial innings.
Corey Anderson – 8/10
Batting was most likely the superior skill for him in this series. His bowling was expensive in the first match, though it improved considerably in the second match as his economy rate dropped to a respectable 3.00.His high score for the series (72) came in an excellent partnership alongside McCullum’s heroics. He backed it up with 40 in the second innings, combining with Kane Williamson to bat out the first session of day four. He is often known for his power hitting, but in three of his four innings (the other being a duck), he showed patience and stayed in for more than 100 balls.
Trent Boult – 4.5/10
Hasn’t quite been the same since his back injury last year – both the swing and speed have yet to fully return. He picked up 5 wickets over the course of the series, and wasn’t too expensive, however lacked the strike power that he has shown in the past. His batting remains as unorthodox as ever, but he did pick up some handy last-wicket runs.
Doug Bracewell – 4/10
Only played in the first game, as a shoulder injury ruled him out of the second. Like the other bowlers, he struggled a little – although he had his fair share of bad luck as he had his wicket of Voges incorrectly ruled a no-ball. With figures of 2-127, he may not have been in the running for the second Test, even if he hadn’t been injured.
Mark Craig – 4/10
With an economy of 4.33, he was too expensive in the first game (especially for a spinner) and this, combined with a lack of wickets, led to him being dropped for the remaining match. Speaking of dropped, he put down one or two chances in the slips, which proved costly. He did play a couple of solid innings (41 and 33*), but the team needs him to do his job as a bowler, not a batsman.
Matt Henry – 4/10
Replaced the injured Doug Bracewell in the second Test. He didn’t manage to pick up any wickets, which was a shame especially when you consider the impact he made in the short form part of the series. He did, however, bat very well, and scored a responsibly built 66 in the second innings.
Tim Southee – 3/10
Has copped a lot of criticism for his performance in this series, but at 2.8 runs per over, he was technically the most economical of the New Zealand bowlers in the first match. In Christchurch, he wasn’t asked to bowl many overs (compared to the other quicks), and only picked up one wicket. He didn’t manage to do anything considerable with the bat, either – in Wellington he hit a typically quick-fire 48, but only managed single figures in the second game.
Neil Wagner – 10/10
Wasn’t picked for the first Test, and only made it into the team for the second courtesy of Mark Craig’s lack of success in Wellington. In the first innings he achieved career best figures of 6-106 and proved that there is a place in the team for him. He was consistently aggressive and showed up the first choice bowlers by taking wickets when they were looking tired. In fact, his speeds only began to drop when he broke his bowling hand – and continued bowling, in true Neil Wagner style.