Wednesday, May 28, 2008

England taught us a lesson

New Zealand coach John Bracewell blamed his side's naivety for allowing England to rewrite the record books at Old Trafford.

The New Zealanders failed to press home their advantage in the second npower Test after opening up a 179-run first-innings lead, and subsequently trail 1-0 in the series when they should be in front.

One of England's great comebacks saw the tourists dismissed for only 114 second time around and a Manchester Test record 294-run chase was completed with four sessions to spare on Monday.

"They taught us a really good batting lesson on how to bat in difficult conditions under pressure," said Bracewell. "And to win.

"They're better players than we are now in terms of the batting line-up. We've got to take every opportunity and if we get half a sniff we've got to make it count.

"Young teams make those mistakes, poor teams keep repeating them."

Two of the young collective, Daniel Flynn and Jamie How, came out of the match with damage to their bodies, while New Zealand were today given news of a further blow from back home with Jesse Ryder not fit for the forthcoming NatWest Series.

The pain would have been greater this morning as the team reflected on the self-inflicted blows to their chances of snatching victory.

Jacob Oram and captain Daniel Vettori were both needlessly run out in the same over during the first innings and, forced to reshuffle the batting order due to the absence of Flynn and neck injury to Oram on Sunday, they went down in a blaze of shots against left-arm spinner Monty Panesar.

"We lost a half-session and lost the match," bemoaned Bracewell. "Probably 290 could have been enough but we should have got 400, we should have buried them.

"We look back and say we should have got 400 in the first innings as well when the pitch was at its best.

"We made two really bad mistakes with run-outs, they were poor mistakes when we were on top of them."

England's decision to employ the heavy roller before embarking on their fourth-day pursuit was also crucial.

As well as negating the fizz in the surface, it forced the Kiwi attack into unfamiliar roles.

"The wicket wasn't doing as much for us and so we searched a little bit and that's not our strength," admitted captain Vettori. "Our strength is to bowl maidens, build pressure and see what happens."

Flynn was due to have two teeth removed and replaced today after his smack in the mouth from a James Anderson delivery.

The 23-year-old wanted to bat in both innings but was held back by the team management and will resume on-field activity after the cosmetic surgery, a doctor's all-clear permitting.

"We are quite protective of him," Vettori said. "He hasn't been in a great space the last few days.

"Batting was not a good idea, so we wouldn't have forced the issue (if the game had gone longer).

"If the medical people clear him it will be a great idea for him to get straight back into it."

That chance will come in a three-day match against Northamptonshire starting on Friday - if Flynn is not cleared then Vettori will feature as a specialist batsman.

New Zealand's selection options have been depleted with the news opener How fractured his index finger in fielding practice early in the Test.

Although he has been pencilled in to feature in next week's npower series finale at Trent Bridge, he will be nursed through until the end of the one-day campaign.

"It's broken and he's just got to deal with it," said Bracewell. "It won't really heal until the end of the tour and we're just protecting it as much as we can."

The Black Caps have already lost the hard-hitting Ryder for the limited-overs leg of the tour after he failed to recover quickly enough from hand surgery.

Ryder was one of the successes of the winter, averaging 49 in New Zealand's 3-1 limited-overs win over England.

"He entertained extremely well but we've got to continue to create depth," Bracewell said. "It's another opportunity for somebody else - we know that Jesse can play and we've just got to be patient with that.

"It may put this particular series under a bit more pressure by not having one of your best players there, but it increases your depth later on down the track."

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