The Black Caps reached their lowest point in the final game of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
While they at least batted out their overs to post 241 for 9, that was largely thanks to a lower-order show of resistance with Daryl Tuffey again in the picture, scoring 36 off 41 balls.
Going into the game it was New Zealand’s top-order which was carrying the burden of expectation with all the correct noises being made about batting sensibly and responsibly. Sadly it all proved to be words alone.
Actions did not measure up in what was a poor representation of a side purported to be ranked number four among the world’s one-day-playing cricket nations.
It was the manner of the soft dismissals, especially of the top-order players, that left the side suffering a crisis of awareness days out from the start of the two-Test series which starts down the road at the Basin Reserve next week.
Brendon McCullum (one) spooned a catch to mid-off, Martin Guptill (seven) ran himself out, Shanan Stewart (six) edged a simple chance behind, Ross Taylor (30) could not stop himself playing an attempted hook shot at a ball too wide of off-stump and Scott Styris undid all the hard work he did in reaching 55 when playing a ball onto his stumps.
Add in Daniel Vettori (28) moving outside leg, only to fail to connect with a ball from Doug Bollinger to bowled, and Gareth Hopkins (26) chasing a wide ball only to be caught at the wicket, and it is a sorry-looking excuse for entertainment from a side which started the series in such ebullient form.
Australia have had too much direction, experience, class and skill both with bat and ball for the New Zealanders who now face the task of lifting themselves for the Test series.
Mitchell Johnson, for all the opprobrium heaped on him by unimaginative chanters in New Zealand’s crowd, showed his true class by taking two for 42 from his 10 overs to answer his detractors in the perfect manner to finish the best of Australia’s bowlers in the series with 12 wickets at an average of 18.33 and an economy rate of 4.73.
Shane Watson also continued his happy knack of picking up wickets at the right time and had one for 31 from eight overs and eight wickets at 21.37 in the series.
Only Doug Bollinger struggled to make an impact throughout the series with four wickets for 231 at an average of 57.75 and an economy rate of 5.87.
But in a demonstration of Australia’s worth over the series, he was still significantly better than James Franklin, Tim Southee and Daryl Tuffey as they prepared for the final innings of the series.