New Zealand head coach Gary Stead refused to make excuses for his side’s crushing 296-run loss to Australia in the first of the three-match series at Perth Stadium. However, with the possible return of key pacer Trent Boult for the remainder of the series, Stead expects a better show from his boys.
The Black Caps have been left to pick up the pieces from a heavy defeat in the day-night affair in Perth ahead of the Boxing Day Test. And their head coach believes they will do a better job adapting to the conditions in Melbourne and Sydney, as the conditions are more like home.
"There are no excuses; we didn't adapt as well as we hoped to. I'm not sure Melbourne and Sydney will have the same extremities of pitch conditions; it will be more like what we are used to. We don't make knee-jerk reactions. Australia played very well, we know they are very hard to beat in these conditions but we also have an experienced squad who won't panic. We know we can be better,” Stead said, reported ESPNCricinfo.
The visitors, however, can take pride in one plan that found significant success amid a torrid four days in the Western Australian heat. The Kiwis had the satisfaction of twice claiming Steve Smith him with smart use of the short ball relatively cheaply (43 and 16) — both times to Neil Wagner.
"Any time you get Steve Smith out for less than his average is probably a good thing but it's only one match and I know he was in the nets every day. He'll try and work out ways to combat what we do and we have to have other plans if that doesn't work for us," Stead said.
On the other hand, Wagner's success against Smith was part of a mammoth effort in which he sent down 60 overs — the most by a pace bowler in a single Test for more than four years, as debutant Lockie Ferguson suffered a calf strain on the day one. Ferguson has been ruled out of the tour, with the uncapped Scott Kuggeleijn or Kyle Jamieson or the experienced Hamish Bennett waiting for a call-up. On the brighter side, they are likely to have Trent Boult back in the mix, having taken a conservative approach with regard to his side strain in the first Test.
"We weren't prepared to take a chance given the length of the season and what's still to come. We weighted up the short-term pain if he was re-injured and the long-term gain of what's coming up," Stead said.
He further praised Tim Southee and Co. for holding their own reasonably well as the batsmen in the side capitulated in either inning — being bundled out for 166 and 171.
"I thought Tim Southee and Neil Wagner were outstanding in the job they did. We know we aren't the fastest attack in the world but I think the pressure they still managed to apply was significant for us. We didn't get the result we wanted but their performances were lion-hearted,” Stead added.
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