New Zealand ‘hurting a lot’ after worst result in Australia

Cricket
Despair after Todd Astle drops a return catch © Getty Images

New Zealand are “hurting a lot” after being whitewashed in Australia, with coach Gary Stead admitting confidence among some key players will need to be resorted ahead of the next Test series against India in February.

Defeats by 296 runs, 247 runs and 279 runs – in a series where they only passed 200 twice – condemned New Zealand to their worst ever result in Australia having arrived as the No. 2 team in the world. While they were hampered by injuries to key players, and a flu bug that went through the camp during the Sydney Test, they were so far short of expectations as to raise questions over their planning and mindset.

This was the middle series of three key contests for New Zealand, having played England at home and then having India at the end of their season. Stead had said before this series that the team should be judged at the end of that run, which leaves the India matches as key for restoring some reputations, although it will be hard to shake off the magnitude of this defeat.

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“Everyone in the team is hurting and hurting a lot,” Stead said. “We wanted to perform better than this but Australia didn’t allow us to. There’s no doubt the team has taken a confidence knock as everyone does when this happens. We have to go back and regroup, look in the mirror and say how can we keep getting better. India are an equally strong team and they will bring a big challenge for us. We need to learn from what’s happened here but also trust the way we’ve played in New Zealand in the past will hopefully stand us in good stead when we play India.”

There are unlikely to be significant changes for the Tests against India partly because there is not a vast pool to be selected from, but the emergence of Tom Blundell and Glenn Phillips on this tour has at least given some options. Blundell will likely retain his place opening in the short-term while Phillips will put pressure on the incumbents to produce runs.

BJ Watling chops one onto his stumps © Getty Images

“The way Australia applied pressure for long periods, and equally when they batted how they absorbed it is the key thing,” Stead said. “They just did it better than us for long periods of time. The decision making around our batting needs to be stronger.

“It would be silly to have knee-jerk reactions about coming to Australia, which is one of the two toughest places in the world to tour. It’s not like we have thousands of cricketers in a population base that allows us to make wholesale changes. There’s no doubt we’ll think about it, review what’s happened and find the good and work out where we can keep making improvements.”

Trent Boult (broken hand), Lockie Ferguson (calf) and Matt Henry (broken thumb) are on the injury list with Ferguson’s time frame the most uncertain. Before the India Tests there is a five-match T20I series and three ODIs where Stead indicated the selectors may need to look at some other options.

“One of the key things will be assessing injuries. This tour hasn’t been kind to us… it has the potential to leave some holes depending on their recovery time. That might mean more opportunity for a different crop of people to be looked at.

“We’ve got the T20 World Cup further down the track, I think it’s 22-23 matches away now and we’re still honing the way we want to play and who we see fitting into roles and learning as much as we can before we hit that tournament.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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