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'Clueless' NZ cricketers succumb to South Africa

Struggling players labelled 'clueless' following hapless performance against South Africans

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 1:40am

New Zealand's struggling cricketers were labelled "clueless" yesterday after Wednesday's 45 all out first innings against South Africa - the lowest Test score in nearly four decades.

Yesterday's second day finished with New Zealand on 169 for 4 for their second innings, South Africa having declared on 347 for 8. But the Test already looked lost after Wednesday's horror show.

Kane Williamson was the only batsman to reach double figures in Cape Town. It was the third lowest score in New Zealand's history, after their world record low of 26 against England in 1955 and 42 against Australia in 1946, and the smallest total seen in tests since England skittled India for 42 in 1974.

"Utterly embarrassed - again," New Zealand's Radio Sport said, as widespread condemnation rained down on the inept performance.

The "shameful 45" was "an utter sporting embarrassment," broadcaster Martin Devlin of TV One said.

Newly installed captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and decided to bat on the green-tinged wicket at Newlands only to see the innings wrecked in just 19.2 overs. South African seamer Vernon Philander finished with five wickets for seven runs in six devastating overs, with quicks Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel taking the other wickets.

Veteran cricket writer David Leggat called it the worst performance he had witnessed in 30 years of covering New Zealand cricket. "After the batting shambles, the bowling wasn't good enough, some of the fielding schoolboyish, and that's being unkind to the youngsters," he wrote in the New Zealand Herald.

It was New Zealand's first test outing since a captaincy row in which star batsman Ross Taylor was dumped as skipper in favour of McCullum.

With that decision causing national outrage and Taylor choosing to sit out the South African tour, Leggat said Wednesday's debacle came at the worst possible time.

"New Zealand's players needed to present a united front, to stand firm and fight to prove a point. Instead they melted away, like ice cream on a summer's day."

Fairfax Media correspondent Duncan Johnstone said the first innings disaster "represented total humiliation".

"We knew they were bad, but few could have envisaged them being this bad," he said.

The cricinfo website called New Zealand "clueless against high-quality pace", and said there was a worrying chasm between the world's number eight test side and top-ranked South Africa. "Scarily, that division is wider than should be acceptable or comfortable. They are in two different leagues."

New Zealand now face the immense task of trying to salvage something from the first test in the two-match series, with South Africa starting the second day 207 runs ahead and with seven wickets in hand.

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