There are always going to be nooks and crannies in which minor differences live, festering upon the intricacies of Test cricket and yet despite those nooks and crannies, the first Test between Aotearoa and Bangladesh finished with the expected result. As one would hope, Bangladesh showcased not just a fighting spirit, but the ability to genuinely fight back against the Blackcaps bullies. That was nice, cute and stretched the Test out, although resistance was futile.
The Blackcaps batted once and Kane Williamson doubled up with a knock of 200*, alongside another casual 150+ score from Tom Latham (161) and Jeet Raval's debut biggun' (132). Other stuff happened in that lone batting innings for Aotearoa, but meh, your club's opening bowler might have fancied a bat against that Bangladesh attack after they'd given Williamson throw-downs for a day.
We know this Blackcaps batting unit is awesome in Aotearoa, against weaker touring teams. While I have a gut-feel that this Test batting group is good, without any boundaries around that, as a unit they are yet to prove themselves in super challenging scenarios. Before sliding into the bowling group, I want to highlight just how dominant our Blackcaps batsmen are in Aotearoa any how that differs to outside Aotearoa.
In Aotearoa: 43 (average).
In Aotearoa: 50.18.
In Aotearoa: 58.72.
In Aotearoa: 52.75.
In Aotearoa: 45.84.
These lads are exceptional in Aotearoa, pretty damn good in general. We haven't seen them all in action against hostile bowling attacks overseas, but from what we have seen of this batting unit, no complaints. Get them in Aotearoa against Asian teams and later bo.
As for the bowlers, they got there in the end and I'm not overly fussed with how they got there, as long as they took 20 wickets. Ol' mate Tamim Iqbal pounced on some loose, um, shit (?) and the combination of Bangladesh being reasonable batsmen along with how Trent Boult and Tim Southee flow between formats, meant that taking those 20 wickets wasn't exactly a smooth, crisp effort.
The ball barely swung and Seddon Park's pitch was baked like you or I was in that garage, so whatever. That's why Neil Wagner is so efficient; when nothing's doing, Wagnut bowls short. Because of the pitch and conditions, we got this barrage of short stuff again from the Blackcaps bowlers and it can be fairly annoying to see this churned out so frequently.
This is the Blackcaps status-quo at the mo, though. The Blackcaps have climbed the Test rankings based around good batting in home conditions, swing bowling and if it ain't swinging, bounce the fuck out of them. That's the blueprint, take Wagner's awkward short stuff out of the equation and we'd better hope for favourable seam/swing conditions.
None of this makes for overly engaging Test cricket. No one will blame you for not paying too much attention to that first Test, or even the second and third Test. We all love Test cricket and there's no shame in drifting away, especially as we've all got other things going on.
The engaging stuff lives in the bigger ideas; Trent Boult better not break down prior to or during the World Cup from bowling all these *unnecessary* overs. Boult bowled the msot overs of any bowler in the Sri Lankan Test series (95.2ov), as well as the Indian ODI series (45.5ov), while Lockie Ferguson's 30ov in the Bangladesh ODI series was slightly ahead of Boult's 28.5ov.
Chuck in 41ov in this first Test vs Bangladesh and it's hard not to admire Boult's efforts, which are matched by Wagner's ability to steam in a bowl short for a whole day. Wagner's job for kiwi cricket is to play Test cricket and take wickets any which way though. Boult's job is to lead the bowling attack in Test cricket and through a World Cup as well. Instead of buzzing about Matt Henry being selected ahead of Tim Southee, it's Southee who needs the overs and at this stage, given the opposition and context, I'd rather Boult goes surfing and Henry gets some reps.
Todd Astle bowled 20 overs @ 3.40rpo (2inns) and was a non-factor. Compare that to Ajaz Patel vs Sri Lanka (43ov @ 1.88rpo in 3inns) and we've got the same scenario, just different spinners - hence it was wtf when Patel got cut.
Spinners don't get much of a run in Aotearoa, not when it's swing then bouncers that do the trick. This is why I'd much prefer that a younger spinner with more long-term upside is selected to simply rack up Tests and gain experience, enjoy some consistency. If the 'best' spinner in Aotearoa is barely going to play a role in Test cricket here, why not let that experience go to someone who will benefit in the future?
A lack of wickets from Astle and then a lack of wickets from any Blackcaps spinner this summer, doesn't reflect poorly on Astle or Patel. The seamers do the job first and foremost, meaning limited opportunities and then these lads are still figuring out what can be effective at the Test level. Right now, it's Astle.
Right now, it's Astle and prepare for a sizzler; it may as well be Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, Cole McConchie, Felix Murray, Theo van Woerkom, Blake Coburn or Glenn Phillips (3w with his offies for Auckland Aces). The point being that right now it's Astle, but given how the spinner is used in Aotearoa, it may as well be a young prospect who needs experience as the seamers have mastered the arts and crafts of bowling in Aotearoa.
Hit an ad to support the Blackcaps.
And please support the Niche Cache was we try to build our base on Patreon. Support the underdogs as best you can, a little goes a long way.
Peace and love 27.