As predicted, that first test against Pakistan was always going to be brutal. The only bit of chest pumping to be extracted from it is that we lost by 100 or so fewer runs than Australia had the week before, although that tends to overlook the fact Pakistan lost only five wickets in the match.
That great barometer of public opinion; Radio Sport offered up two perspectives during the week. On one hand a host has said this season is all about the World Cup, and who cares about tests in the UAE. On the other hand the text-line has been full of “Blackcaps are again the Blackcraps” etc…
Of course, the truth lies in between those two views. This test series is still a test series; a rare three test series at that, and this team has grafted away a lot over the last 24 months to turn results around. On the other hand, the first test was always going to be the toughest. It is what happens from now on that really matters.
On the positive side, the performances of Latham and Sodhi were the highlights of the first test. Throughout the history of New Zealand cricket the two biggest issues have been an opening partnership and the lack of a quality wrist spinner.
Latham was technically very good, but it was the mental application, on top of his efforts in the West Indies, that shows that he is someone we can genuinely be optimistic about. Sodhi had his best test, and constantly worried the best batsmen of leg spin in the world. He will bowl a lot worse for better reward in the future.
This was a test that Neesham and Craig did not enjoy; especially after their heady introduction into test cricket. Neesham ended up being replaced by the skipper as the fourth choice seamer after having a horror time under the high ball, and Craig’s fall in the spinning pecking order was clear for all to see.
New Zealand teams traditionally improve as series progress in Asia. But the main concern would be around whether this test made New Zealand, particularly the batsmen, got themselves into a position where they are better placed going into this next test.
Taylor faced 14 balls in the test, Williamson 50, and McCullum 94. Not quite batting themselves into form.
But this side will not roll over. Boult and Southee will not go wicketless in a test again.
And surely, surely, McCullum must be due to win a toss?