Cap­tain colos­sus toughs it out again

The Timaru Herald - - $ -

[email protected] New Zealand bat­ting coach Craig McMil­lan break of his own to his plas­tic ab­dom­i­nal pro­tec­tor, thanks to a Dale Steyn thun­der­bolt.

The other se­cond in­nings spe­cials were all un­beaten and led to test wins, clearly Wil­liamson’s pre­req­ui­site for a high rat­ing: ❚ In Bar­ba­dos in 2014, 161 not out to in­spire a 52-run win and clinch that West In­dies series 2-1. ❚ In Welling­ton in 2015, 242 not out against Sri Lanka af­ter the Black Caps trailed by 135 on the first Noe­line Tau­rua has im­posed strength and con­di­tion­ing tar­gets on the Sil­ver Ferns and won’t pick play­ers who don’t come up to scratch.

A group of 25 play­ers gather in Auck­land on Mon­day for a week­long Sil­ver Ferns train­ing camp with a 12-strong squad named on Fri­day for Jan­uary’s North­ern Quad Series in Eng­land.

The fit­ness lev­els of sev­eral Ferns and their in­abil­ity to stand up to the phys­i­cal­ity of the Aus­tralian and English de­fend­ers was a ma­jor con­cern dur­ing Septem­ber’s Quad Series and Oc­to­ber’s Con­stel­la­tion Cup – new head coach Tau­rua’s first as­sign­ments in charge.

‘‘De­cem­ber is the first time tar­gets have been put in, in re­gards to se­lec­tion and [play­ers] have to meet a cer­tain tar­get in the fit­ness area,’’ Tau­rua told Stuff.

‘‘We have to raise the stan­dards of what is cur­rently ac­cepted in the past and this is a start­ing point.

‘‘The [re­quired] num­bers aren’t that high if I’m be­ing hon­est about that, but it’s a start­ing point. It sets the tone or the ex­pec­ta­tion of what’s re­quired to be a Sil­ver Fern.’’

Fit­ness re­quire­ments on Sil­ver Ferns isn’t a novel ap­proach, but again un­der­lines Tau­rua’s early in­flu­ence on the team and her takeno-pris­on­ers at­ti­tude.

Con­di­tion­ing has been a reg­u­lar is­sue with the Sil­ver Ferns and Tau­rua said the matches against Aus­tralia high­lighted the gulf in fit­ness lev­els be­tween the teams. New Zealand des­per­ately needed to im­prove their re­sults across the board, so they could push through and avoid mak­ing silly er­rors when they were tir­ing.

‘‘That’s been an area that has been iden­ti­fied for what seems like quite a few re­views. It seems to be a con­sis­tent sort of mes­sage that has come up.’’

Tau­rua re­alised they wouldn’t pro­duce in­stant mir­a­cles with fit­ness, but said there needed to be steady im­prove­ment and greater ac­count­abil­ity from play­ers.

GETTY IM­AGES/AP

Kane Wil­liamson dis­played his trade­mark steely de­ter­mi­na­tion with an im­pec­ca­ble tech­nique in an­other stel­lar se­cond in­nings dis­play, this time in the third test against Pak­istan. In­set, Wil­liamson cel­e­brates reach­ing his 19th test cen­tury.

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