At the time New Zealand walked out to start its second innings, 91 runs in arrears, the cloud started to roll in from the Cook Strait. It was like an omen of what was to come.
When you are in the kind of form Tom Latham is in, not a lot goes your way. Four overs later he nibbled at one that he’d have left well alone a couple of months ago. People will call for his head, but this isn’t the series for blooding test openers.
Where the selectors got it wrong was persevering with Latham in the ODI series and not sending him back to Plunket Shield to regain form and confidence, because that’s what he’s missing.
Ian Smith hilariously called for George Worker who is currently not opening in first class cricket and has a career average of 27. For some reason, parochialism seems to be playing a bigger part than normal this summer when those who should know better are making selectorial comments.
This was Kane Williamson’s lowest return in a test when he’s batted twice. No matter how exceptional he is, you can’t rely on him to anchor the innings like he did in Dunedin, and all those other times. Especially when he’s out in the middle so early against that bowling attack.
Morkel took the wickets, but Philander’s opening spell, into a decent breeze, was quite something. 0/17 off 7 really demanding overs. It is unlikely that Neil Broom had ever faced anything like than in 14 years of First Class cricket. He ended up wicketless, but he deserves a fair bit of credit for the wickets that ended up falling at the other end.
The batting in the hour before lunch was actually top notch, given the state of the bowling. Added to the pair mentioned above was Rabada who was casually firing down Yorkers at 147kph and testing Raval’s technique against the short stuff.
Broom’s learning experience came to an end soon after lunch when Quintin de Kock reminded us what a very polished keeper he is. Then there was that crazy over from Maharaj when Nicholls tried a sweep from wide outside off stump and Neesham thought that … not sure what Neesham was thinking.
New Zealand was still in arrears. People started making plans for Sunday.
At tea it was a different story; Raval and Watling were putting together a decent 6th wicket partnership, and people started thinking about those times that plaques got made to celebrate fightbacks.
And hour later it was all over. Five wickets had fallen for 16 in 6 overs. The chief destroyer being Maharaj.
A finger spinner taking 6/40.
On a Basin pitch.
On the third day.
Those Sunday planning discussions resumed.
South Africa came out to bat, and so did the sun. The bowlers did look sharp, and at least they didn’t play Cook into form, but this was an emphatic and confidence sapping defeat.
Statchat. This was the first time New Zealand had lost a test at the Basin inside three days since England 1963