| HADLEE: ‘Richardson was outstanding’
Wellington: Despite the convincing 10-wicket victory in the first Test against India, New Zealand’s chief selector Richard Hadlee has slammed his batsmen saying, “Some of them have continued to struggle for runs.”
“We were very pleased with how the bowlers went. But the batting remains a concern... We talked a lot about the batting,” Hadlee said, even as the selectors decided to stick to the same squad for the second Test starting at Hamilton on Thursday.
New Zealand crushed India within three days in the first Test at the Basin Reserve to gain a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
“Mark Richardson was outstanding but some have struggled for runs at the domestic level and it continued in this Test match,” he was quoted as saying by a local daily on Monday. “We decided to continue with the same side as it was just a two-Test series and keeping the same XII together also helps prepare the side for the coming one-day series.
“Had it been a three-Test series things may have been different,” Hadlee stressed.
The legendary fast bowler was all praise for his bowlers, especially debutant Jacob Oram for skittling out the formidable Indian batting line up for a meagre 161 and 121 in the two innings. Hadlee said he never doubted Oram’s ability to cope up with the conditions.
While fast bowler Shane Bond and opening batsman Richardson were instrumental for the victory at the Basin Reserve, the big mover was Oram, he said. Oram, who finished with a match haul of five for 59, played a key role in his side’s outstanding bowling performance.
“He gets bounce and he makes life awkward for batsmen. We certainly see him as a future third seamer. He can also bat a bit which offers us a bigger batting depth,” Hadlee said.
There were many challengers to grab the batting spots in the national side, he said, adding, “It does not take a genius to work out that Otago’s Brendon McCullam tops the list.”
In the domestic competition where ball has generally dominated the bat, McCullum (21), has racked up 273 runs at an average of 68.25, including a century and two fifties. He also smashed 60 in the Super Max match against India. Mathew Sinclair also remains an option with 186 runs at an average of 31 as well as a half-century in the tour match between Central Districts and India.
India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who picked his maiden five-wicket haul last week, admitted on Monday that he was quite nervous going into the first Test.
“It was tough for me to play in the Test after a gap. It was tough on the knee since I had a narrow escape in the Super Max game,” said the left arm fast bowler who took five for 53 to help his side restrict New Zealand to 247 in their first innings.
Zaheer was hit painfully on the right knee while fielding in India’s tour opener at Christchurch and had to miss the subsequent three-day game against Central Districts at Napier. But he recovered in time to have a go at the New Zealanders in the first Test.
“I’ve been missing it (a five-wkt haul) on quite a few occasions. It is finally great to have achieved such a milestone though losing the Test was a big disappointment. I’ve been telling all, it is a matter of bowling well. If you do so, obviously you are going to achieve it down the line.”
He said picking the wicket of New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming on the second day was the key to his success in the Test. “The wicket of Stephen Fleming was important because it was my first wicket and gave me the confidence.”
Zaheer Khan said the strip at Basin Reserve was helpful to his kind of bowling because he likes to hit the deck hard. “The key to bowl on this track is, you’ve got to hit the length and hit the deck hard.
“I feel the wickets here help seam bowlers, the kind of bowling I do,” he said.
He also had a word of praise for his fellow seamers who bowled against the wind while he was given the end from where the wind blew over his shoulder. “Conditions were tough bowling from the other end because they were bowling against the wind. I appreciate their effort because it was a tough job doing so. They also beat the bat consistently.”
The bowler gave all credit to trainer Adrian Le Roux for his form in the last six months which has seen him emerge as India’s bowling spearhead in the pace department.
“I’ve always maintained that Adrian working on our fitness levels has been the key to my bowling. He is guiding us in a proper manner and is a great help.”
The pacer said he was beginning to bowl genuinely quick at times and everything is beginning to jell well at the moment.
“I’ve bowled fast in the past. I bowled quick against Zimbabwe and also against England. It is coming good but it would take some time to bowl at that consistent pace.
“I am more keen to stick to my bowling strengths rather than do experiments at this stage. Though I would very much like the outswinger to come in my armoury as well,” he said.