Martin Devlin: Black Caps have a draining battle ahead of them

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 13 Dec 2019, 2:41PM

Martin Devlin: Black Caps have a draining battle ahead of them

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 13 Dec 2019, 2:41PM

That's what's called a bad toss to lose. Yesterday afternoon at Optus Stadium in Perth our captain Kane Williamson called tails, the coin came up heads and the Black Caps were handed a couple of days toiling away in unimaginable heat. Forty deg temperatures, peaking at fifty or so pitchside.

If you've never been in that kind of heat before, in my experience, it is headache-inducing relentless and inescapable. For all of our bowlers the task immediately switched from impact to endurance.

Whether a warm-up match would've helped is immaterial now because just how do you prepare our players to play in such conditions? Physically it's something we'll never get used to given the fact that New Zealand, at no time of the year, ever gets that hot.

By the end of day's play our guys were spent. To restrict them to 248/4 was a mammoth effort on our part, make no mistake about that.  Southee, Wagner & de Grandhomme gave everything in those conditions and their efforts especially meant we finished the day in a very respectable position considering.

Anytime the opposition choose to bat they go in looking for at least 300, your job being to either bowl them out or slow them down.

So on numbers alone we did pretty damn well. From here on in though, with a bowler down, things are only going to be even more of a grind.

Losing Ferguson to a calf strain was like a day in the sun where you'd stupidly forgotten the sunblock. Nothing you could do about it at the time but definitely something to be rued for days afterwards. Was he 100% ready?

We can only assume he was, ridiculous to think he would've been picked otherwise, the real shame being Boult's sidestrain which prevented our ace him from playing at all.

Wagner's efforts cannot be praised enough. The man is NZ cricket's lionheart.

He never gives anything except absolutely everything. I hope his contribution to this team and our game in general is recognised long after he retires but for sheer guts, determination and will to win I'm not sure anyone in the modern game comes  close. So where to from here for the Black Caps?

It will take a herculean effort to save this test and realistically, down a bowler, that's probably the best we can hope for.

Defeatist, maybe, but under these conditions, this oppressive heat, once again it'll take every ounce of our fighting qualities to finish the 5 days without being beat.

The next four days are why it is called test cricket. Because physically, mentally, psychologically, emotionally, that is exactly what it is.