New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori slammed his side’s performance today after a six-wicket defeat to New South Wales in their final lead-up to the first cricket test against Australia.
The tourists didn’t bat well enough in either innings against a youthful NSW attack on a lifeless Sydney Cricket Ground pitch, and the hosts crawled to their target of 162 in the 53rd over on the final afternoon.
A fiery spell from senior paceman Chris Martin gave New Zealand a glimmer of hope as he reduced NSW to 79 for four, but allrounder Steven Smith and wicketkeeper Daniel Smith added an unbroken 83 to win with 12 overs to spare.
Martin ended with three for 16 off 11 overs in an encouraging return after he missed the Bangladesh tour with a hamstring strain.
Vettori said defeat was unacceptable.
“Absolutely not, we came here with a desire to win the game and the performance for the majority of it, particularly with the bat, was pretty poor,” he said.
“I’m not too sure why. The batting side has plagued us for a long time. To only put 250 on the board in both innings, and we were in trouble in both as well, makes it tough to recover from that.
“I was relatively happy with the bowling but disappointed with the fielding, dropping catches.
“There’s a couple of people who’ll be happy with their performances but the majority will be disappointed.”
There was at least some good news, that New Zealand should be injury-free for Thursday’s first test in Brisbane after positive reports for vice-captain Brendon McCullum and batsman Jesse Ryder.
McCullum was sent to hospital for X-rays on the three middle toes of his left foot after suffering a painful blow from a Grant Lambert yorker while scoring 54 in New Zealand’s second innings of 256.
He returned to the ground with an ice pack on his foot but thankfully no fractures as he sat out the NSW second innings, with Ryder and Aaron Redmond sharing wicketkeeping duties.
Vettori said McCullum’s back injury which forced him from the field during the NSW first innings had improved, and he was confident he would be fit to wicketkeep in Brisbane.
Ryder appeared to have recovered from the mystery bug that flattened him on the first two days, although he only scored 10 today before hitting a soft catch to mid-on.
Batsman Peter Fulton and wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins arrive tomorrow as cover, although the team will likely be unchanged.
New Zealand got the solid workout they needed but should have done better against the NSW ‘Baby Blues’, average age 22 and without nine frontliners including current test players Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark.
The result continued the recent trend of New Zealand touring teams in Australia, their third consecutive defeat to NSW after 1997-98 (by an innings and 95 runs) and 2004-05 (nine wickets). Both were followed by heavy first test losses in Brisbane.
On a slow, low surface far removed from the likely conditions at the Gabba, the New Zealand test batting lineup scored 266 and 256, with Vettori the second innings topscorer with 73.
Daniel Flynn hit a polished 55 yesterday while McCullum didn’t appear to be hampered by his back problems in his brisk 54.
Opener Jamie How is in good shape after a majestic 170 on Thursday but Aaron Redmond, Ross Taylor and Ryder go to Brisbane worryingly short of runs.
Resuming on 157 for five today, New Zealand were dismissed for 256 just before lunch, as allrounder Moises Henriques starred for NSW with five for 51. He took the first four wickets to fall as New Zealand slumped to 35 for four yesterday.
The shadow test bowling attack at least made NSW work for their runs, with Martin and Kyle Mills bowling handy opening spells while Vettori was accurate but went wicketless in nine overs.