New Zealand struggled to live up to expectations in Perth.
New Zealand struggled to live up to expectations in Perth.

Starc sledge exposes Black Caps truth

NEW Zealand arrived on Australian shores last week determined to prove their worth as the No.2 Test team in the world, but former star Kyle Mills believes the side have revealed their greatest weakness - a lack of depth.

The Black Caps boast only one win from their 23 previous matches against Australia. Like David and Goliath, victory over their mighty Trans Tasman rivals would be cause for celebration.

Kane Williamson's crew was touted as the strongest New Zealand squad to tour Australia since 1985, when Sir Richard Hadlee ripped through Australia's batting line-up.

However, spectators in Perth would be forgiven for questioning the No.2 world ranking after watching the Black Caps crumble to a mammoth 296-run loss on Sunday.

With the exception of pacemen Tim Southee and Neil Wagner, the visitors did not live up to expectations at Perth Stadium, many players failing to contribute anything substantial with bat or ball.

Opener Jeet Raval looked out of his depth against Australia's all-star attack - the left-hander registered a pair of ones with the bat.

The only highlight for Raval at Perth was attaining his maiden Test wicket, bowling Pat Cummins around his legs in their first innings.

Mitchell Starc brutally sledged the hapless batsman on day four, suggesting the contest in Perth could be his last match of the series.

"The last chance of your career," Starc quipped on Sunday afternoon.

"Christmas is pretty good when you have it off though. They do good lunches for Christmas in Melbourne."

The insult would not have seemed so vicious if not for it's unfortunate accuracy - Starc removed the Kiwi batsman only minutes later.

At first impression, Ravel does not play like a world-class batsman - the 31-year-old has one Test century to his name after 23 matches, against Bangladesh.

Raval's Test batting average of 30.55 is mediocre at best, and his selection for Boxing Day remains an uncertainty.

Unfortunately for the Black Caps, Raval is one of many chinks in the team's armour, and the tiny nation has limited resources from which to pull Test cricketers.

On what was arguably a spin-friendly pitch, Mitchell Santner finished the Perth Test with figures of 0/146 - rival tweaker Nathan Lyon claimed six scalps on the turning deck.

Santner is also yet to prove himself at Test level, currently with a bowling average of 43.15.

The 27-year old is yet to take a first class five-wicket haul - in fact, Santner hasn't even managed a first class four-wicket haul in his entire professional career.

There have been calls for leg-break bowler Todd Astle to replace the struggling off-spinner.

Although they boast impressive Test records, Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham both disintegrated under the harsh Perth sun. They are ranked No.16 and 19 in the ICC Test batting rankings respectively.

But despite the sub-par performance in Perth, former New Zealand cricketer Kyle Mills believes the gulf between the Kiwis and Australian is not as wide as it appears.

"They were pretty poor and losing Lachie Ferguson was a big miss for the New Zealand side," Mills told RSN 927's the Breakfast Club.

"I don't think the gulf is as big as the result in this Test match just been. I don't believe that.

"New Zealand is a good side. They are No.2 in the world and they've been playing consistent cricket for the past three years, but they got a right royal hiding over there. They are going to have to bounce back pretty quick.

"We don't have the depth of an Australian or an Indian cricket side. To replace them, you are not replacing them with an opener. So it's a very big ask to get someone to step up into their shoes."

Meanwhile, Australia have finally settled on a reliable Test XI for the first time since the 2013/14 Ashes.

Simon Katich is optimistic about the future of Australian cricket.
Simon Katich is optimistic about the future of Australian cricket.

Steve Smith and David Warner are accompanied by a cluster of promising batsmen, one of who has already registered three Test centuries this summer.

Australia's bowling attack is undeniably the best in the world, and there's a wealth of classy pacemen waiting in the wings.

Former cricketer and Channel 7 commentator Simon Katich is confident Australia's team is on track for long-term success.

"Marnus Labuschagne has been outstanding with the bat and he continues to progress from what he did so well in England," Katich told SEN 1116.

"Mitchell Starc is in career best form. Starc got dropped in the Ashes, was sitting on the bench for a lot of it, he's remodelled his action and come back a far better bowler, but also I think he's copped it on the chin in terms of sitting on the bench and coming back better for it.

"Those two have been dominant and then there's good performances in and around that from David Warner against Pakistan and our bowling attack is I think the best in the world at the moment.

"Nathan Lyon did a great job yesterday, Pat Cummins is outstanding."

Meanwhile, the Black Caps showed few signs of equivalent longevity.

Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are undeniably world-class batsmen, and the tourists will be rejuvenated by the return of Trent Boult but are lacking in depth compared to Australia.

New Zealand need to win both Tests in Melbourne and Sydney to retain the Trans Tasman trophy for the first time since 1993. 

Jeet Raval struggled in Perth.
Jeet Raval struggled in Perth.
News Corp Australia


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