Upon gaining the advantage at the flip of the coin and after having seen the straw brown wicket and leaden skies, Taylor asked Graeme Smith's men to have a bat. At the end of the day, it looks like an act of audacious genius but not so at lunch. NZ management will tell you it was a decision made to take advantage of the four pronged pace attack and the heavy conditions and a wicket that they believe will get slower and easier to bat. First day strikes, they'll say, were all that more important. If you're doubting that explanation, its because baloney tastes and smells and looks like baloney and if you swallow what they feed you, you'll have indigestion.
Ross Taylor bowled first for the same reason all captains of inferior, nervous and brittle batting line ups do: when faced with a superior bowling attack, you bowl first in order to try and stay in the game and hope that you can catch the opposition by surprise in the first session. Its a defensive move and one representative of New Zealand cricket's state of mind. If Taylor wanted to back his pace attack to rip through the South Africans, then why had Dan Vettori bowled six overs in the first session of the innings and a further nine in the extended last session? With three quarters of the first new ball's overs bowled, Tim Southee and Trent Boult have only bowled 15 overs between them! This wasn't courageous captaincy, it was conservative, scaredy pants stuff and he got away with it.
|Chris Martin - 3 wickets in 4 balls|
Martin who bowls in shorter spells these days, came on after lunch and bothered Smith with four balls on an uncomfortable length on off stump and then sent the fifth fuller and wider. Smith, sensing release, hit a drive straight to Nicol at cover. It was dumb so soon after the break but better than inside edging which is his usual mode of self-destruction. Southee sent done the next over to Amla: uneventful save for a cut for four behind point which the batsman attacked like horror film maniacs do with an axe. Martin's first ball of a new over was a planned chestnut to Kallis, who early in his innings squares up to the ball which rises on off stump. He did so again and Taylor held a cracking catch diving to his left at first slip. Martin's next nipped back at de Villiers and as is the modern trend of the exceptional players, he played across the line and was lbw, despite review, first ball. Reviews ... remember them?
|Hashim Amla cuts during his 62|
It was a great day for New Zealand but it will be wrongly reported. Martin saved face for the skipper but experience reminds that you'll know how good a decision it was and how the pitch is playing after the other mob have a bat.
In the meantime, I'm willing to bet their were no ice baths in the sheds in Dunedin today.