Melbourne, Dec 31: With two huge losses in successive Tests in Australia, New Zealand have their backs to the wall and head Coach Gary Stead wants to search for solutions.
New Zealand suffered a 296-run defeat in the first Test in Perth and were swept aside by the Australians once again in the Boxing Day Test here, which they lost in four days by 247 runs. Stead acknowledged that Australia was clearly the better team and knows that the process of getting back on their feet will be a long one for New Zealand. "We were obviously beaten up by Australia again," he said at the post-match media interaction." "I want to acknowledge how well they played; we're up against a quality team at the very top of their game," Stead said.
"For us, I think, we've got to find some areas where we can keep chipping away, make improvements and put Australia under pressure for longer," he said. New Zealand's batting has cause for concern in Australia. Their star batsman and captain Kane Williamson has scored only 57 runs in four innings so far. His returns in his last 10 innings don't make for pretty viewing either: He has scored only one century and one half-century in those with five single-digit scores.
He was out LBW for a duck in the second innings in Melbourne, having challenged the on-field call, and was unlucky to find that the ball was just about clipping the leg stump, an ICC report said. The coach, though, backed his captain. "It's not just Kane. Many of our players have had a pretty tough time over here and that's the pressure that gets put on," Stead said. "You saw his [lbw] dismissal it was pretty unlucky, and on another day it can be given not out and he carries on and could have got a hundred." "Kane is fine. Like all players you go through ups and downs and sometimes are more challenging. This is obviously a challenging part of his career, as it is with all players," Stead said.
Stead believes the biggest challenge for him and batting coach Peter Fulton will be to find ways to push players past their comfort zone. "We always look at ourselves when we're not getting the results and try hard to work with the guys and say 'how can we develop you?' We've had plans in place and worked hard with the tail about how to eke out more runs," he said "Unless you're doing that day in, day out, change is quite difficult to see in a short period. That's our challenge to find ways to have the players uncomfortable, and getting comfortable being uncomfortable, because that's what Australia do to us all the time," Stead said.
Stead also acknowledged the huge crowd of Black Caps supporters who had turned up at the MCG, and hoped the fans will continue backing the side in tough times. "In my time involved in cricket in New Zealand I'm not sure I've ever seen or experienced anything like that. Our players went there and acknowledged the crowd that was there. If we could replicate that at every Test ground ... I mean Stead backs Williamson, hunts for ways to put Australia under pressure it felt a little bit like Barmy Army, which comes and lifts England," he said. "From the players and the management, hearty congratulations to those people. They got out there and kept supporting us. When times were tough, they kept singing and chanting and that was pretty special," Stead added. (UNI)