Cricket: New Zealand Shows Potential in Big Win over Sri Lanka

Jeff CheshireAnalyst IINovember 30, 2012

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 15:  Ross Taylor of New Zealand cuts the ball during day one of the First Test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Seddon Park on March 15, 2012 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

They have come to be one of the most frustrating teams in the world of sports. The New Zealand cricket team, also known as the Black Caps, have stuttered and stumbled through the past few years often struggling to post competitive totals and failing to take wickets.

But every so often they show glimpses of their potential. And that every so often has happened once again, as they picked up their first test win in almost 12 months in emphatic style against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. It was the first time they have beaten one of the big three sub-continent teams in the sub-continent since 1998.

Ross Taylor was in fine form, scoring 142 in the first innings and backing that up with 74 in the second. His partnership with Kane Williamson, who added 135 in the first innings, was the cornerstone for the win as they worked their way to a 412 first innings total. 

This made for a pleasant change for New Zealand, who have made a habit in recent times of losing a handful of early wickets and struggling to post a remotely competitive target. What a difference it made.

And what a difference it would have made for the bowlers too. Having some runs on the board to bowl at allowed them more freedom and let the team adopt a more attacking game in the field. It was this that allowed New Zealand to roll Sri Lanka for 244, with the opening pair of Tim Southee and Trent Boult the stars, picking up nine wickets between them.

The big scalps of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene were obtained relatively early, with the three danger men scoring just nine runs between them. A fight back from the lower order saw Sri Lanka reach the follow on total, but they were left trailing the game.

From there all that was left was to finish the job, something that was done well through Taylor's 74 and another good bowling performance which saw Southee and Boult star once more taking three wickets apiece.

It was a performance that showed just how good New Zealand can be.

But it must be asked why we see this form so rarely. Not since December 2011 have we seen a performance that would suggest New Zealand were remotely competitive with any of the other top eight teams.

Certainly there's talent. But they are just too inconsistent. Ross Taylor has averaged in excess of 50 since becoming captain, but has been the only batsman to show any sort of consistency. Kane Williamson has been good at times, whilst Martin Guptill has had a poor run after flying high for the most of last summer. Brendon McCullum too needs to find more consistency, as it is becoming far too often that he will get a quick 20 and then throw his wicket away.

Southee and Boult have shown they are both worth persisting with as an opening bowling combination, but both need to develop consistency too. Doug Bracewell hasn't lived up to the promise he showed a year ago, whilst a quality spinner to fill the shoes of Daniel Vettori still needs to be found.

If all these men can start performing to their potential on a more consistent basis then New Zealand may once again find themselves a threat on the world cricket scene. But if not, you may find yourself reading this article again next year. One about a team who just can't perform when it matters.

They will now travel to South Africa, whom they will face in three T20's, two tests and and three One Day Internationals.