Touring Australia isn’t easy. So a series loss could be easily predicted. But what has knocked the stuffing out of the average New Zealand cricket fan is not the loss, but the fact that it was so completely comprehensive and repetitive.
Australia batting first, New Zealand failing to avoid the follow on. Australia batting again, grinding out psychological damage before each test finishing within four days with another batting collapse.
Six innings with a highest score of 256. Of all the stats being thrown around that’s the main one.
The characteristic of the Stead / Larsen era has been consistency and loyalty but when you tour Australia you need more than that.
So while the issues around Raval and Santner were evident before the tour started the issues encountered by the other batsmen was the real disappointment.
15 runs in Melbourne from Williamson and Taylor combined seemed unthinkable.
The batsmen with the highest average were Blundell, Astle and Phillips which supports the theory that changing things around is something that could be tried more often.
When your form is down…
The maxim saying the when your form is down then your luck is down continued throughout the tour.
Losing a bowler in three consecutive tests was unprecedented. It meant a higher workload for the other bowlers; a situation that was exacerbated by the lack of spinning options in the first two tests.
And three players being ruled out of the Sydney test due to illness was the sort of thing that used to happen when touring India in the 1950s.
The Head Scratchers
Picking a squad of 15 players for two series against different sides held over two countries (maybe three) was always a strange one. In the end 19 players were called up with only Kyle Jamieson not getting a run.
What it did mean however is that Raval and Santner were retained for at least one test too many. Loyalty can be a virtue, but not when picking professional cricket teams against Australia.
Amongst the chaos leading up to the Sydney test there was the curious omission of Tim Southee. We will probably need to wait for a book to come out to get to the bottom of that.
And bowling first in Melbourne was probably more an indication of the collective state of mind and conservatism than a mystery as such.