New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has defended bowlers Mark Craig and Tim Southee after the pair struggled to make an impact during the first-Test loss to England at Lord’s.
Trent Boult took nine wickets and Matt Henry impressed on debut with six scalps, but Hesson acknowledged new ball exponent Southee and offspinner Craig were below their best.
Both proved expensive, particularly Southee in the second innings as England allrounder Ben Stokes raced to a match-turning century.
Hesson said Southee looked good at the top of both England innings, removing three specialist batsmen, but he suffered from the heavy workload after a back injury to allrounder Corey Anderson limited his overs.
“Tim bowled some great spells but we were a bowler light so he had to bowl a heck of a lot of extra overs, which didn’t help him.”
Southee, Boult and Henry will be on light duty ahead of the second Test starting in Leeds on Friday.
Hesson confirmed Henry had done enough to be retained and that Doug Bracewell or Neil Wagner would only be called in at Headingley if Anderson is ruled out.
Craig lacked the cutting edge that has marked the early Tests of his career, recording match figures 2-173 off 46 overs. Standout allrounder Ben Stokes was his victim in both innings.
Hesson expected better this week from the 28-year-old, who has played little recent cricket.
“Mark didn’t have his best Test match with the ball, that’s fair. But he’s played nine Tests and he’s won us three so he’s a very important member of our squad.
“He’ll be better for the hit-out. I felt he got better as the Test went on.”
Hesson wasn’t overly-critical of his team, who he said lost control of the Test on the fourth morning when some sharp bowling went unrewarded before centuries to Stokes and captain Alastair Cook then swung momentum.
“You expect a certain standard of performance and we were pretty close to that,” he said.
“Unfortunately England played pretty well as well, and that made it a great Test match.”