Kane Williamson was the only batsman to reach double figures in Cape Town
during a humiliating day for the Black Caps on Wednesday, as the home side
piled up 252 for three to establish an iron grip on the series opener.
It was the third lowest score in New Zealand’s history, after their world
record low of 26 against England in 1955 and 42 against Australia in 1946,
and the smallest total seen in Tests since England skittled India for 42 in
“Utterly embarrassed – again,” said New Zealand’s Radio Sport,
amid widespread condemnation of the inept performance.
The “shameful 45″ was “an utter sporting embarrassment,” said broadcaster
Martin Devlin of TV One.
Newly-installed captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and decided to bat on
the green-tinged wicket at Newlands only to see the innings wrecked in just
South African seamer Vernon Philander finished with magnificent figures of
five wickets for seven runs in six devastating overs, with quicks Dale Steyn
and Morne Morkel sharing the other five dismissals.
Veteran cricket writer David Leggat called it the worst performance he had
witnessed in 30 years of covering New Zealand cricket.
“After the batting shambles, the bowling wasn’t good enough, some of the
fielding schoolboyish, and that’s being unkind to the youngsters,” he wrote
in the New Zealand Herald.
It was New Zealand’s first Test outing since a captaincy row in which star
batsman Ross Taylor was dumped as skipper in favour of McCullum.
With that decision causing national outrage and Taylor choosing to sit out the
South African tour, Leggat said Wednesday’s debacle came at the worst
“New Zealand’s players needed to present a united front, to stand firm and
fight to prove a point. Instead they melted away, like ice cream on a
Fairfax Media correspondent Duncan Johnstone said the first innings
disaster “represented total humiliation”.
“We knew they were bad, but few could have envisaged them being this bad,” he
The cricinfo website called New Zealand “clueless against high-quality pace”,
and said there was a worrying chasm between the world’s No 8 Test side and
top-ranked South Africa.
“Scarily, that division is wider than should be acceptable or comfortable.
They are in two different leagues,” cricinfo said.
Cricketworld website took aim at McCullum’s decision to bat first,
saying he was “perhaps showing a degree of misplaced faith in his batsmen’s
ability that has rarely been matched in international cricket”.
New Zealand now have the immense task of trying to salvage something from the
first Test in the two-match series, with South Africa starting the second
day 207 runs ahead and with seven wickets standing.