Opinion: Blackcaps in need of Hagley Hail Mary to avoid test series defeat to rampant Australia

OPINION: Never mind being done like a dinner, the Blackcaps were done before lunch at the Basin Reserve.  

The 172-run loss was a performance that once again had fans exhaling in frustration, scratching their heads in confusion, and screaming the question that's been circling for decades, yet only emerges every few years:

Why can't they beat Australia?

While New Zealand's early morning mutiny on day four lasted less than two hours, this was a result that, let's be honest, was established 48 hours earlier.

Nathan Lyon took 10 wickets in the match to defeat the Blackcaps.
Nathan Lyon took 10 wickets in the match to defeat the Blackcaps. Photo credit: Getty Images

Tim Southee repeatedly mentioned in his post-match comments, and rightly so, how Cameron Green's classy and combative innings, and New Zealand's inability to dismiss either him or Josh Hazlewood in their 116-run 10th wicket partnership on Saturday, were crucial.

That's when both the momentum and the match, slipped out of New Zealand's fingertips and into the Aussie laps.  

And while yes, that was massive, there's no arguing with that, this performance goes beyond just that.

The Blackcaps twice failed to score 200, on a pitch which, on day two in particular, appeared to only become better for batting.

In the end, Australia, mathematically, didn't need to bat twice.

The hosts' top-four averaged just 13 across eight separate knocks at the Basin, and even that's made flattering by Rachin Ravindra's second innings 59, before he whipped out breakfast cutlery and spooned one to cover.

Across the board, the dismissals were at times just odd.

In a tone that echoes "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed"; it's not that they got out, it's how they got out.

You'd think Kane Williamson will return to the form we've seen for so long, that class doesn't just disappear with a change of ground and opposition and in the space of one match.  

But even his first innings run-out screamed of a player just wanting to prove a point against big brother Australia.

Mitchell Starc celebrates a wicket.
Mitchell Starc celebrates a wicket. Photo credit: Photosport

In choppy trans-Tasman waters, not even he could steady the ship.

Others though seemed lost and in limbo .

Someone like, for example, Scott Kuggeleijn's dismissal in the first innings, was puzzling, and perhaps only usurped on day two by the madness of a streaker thinking that was a good idea.  

Another example in Tom Blundell, was clearly uncertain at how to cope with Nathan Lyon's spin and bounce - the latter, arguably his greatest asset and understandably something to be miffed at.

New Zealand's bowling for the large part was what you'd expect from the side.

Testing, and at times unrelenting, with Matt Henry benefiting in the first innings (side note, he may be the most-underrated player in New Zealand), while Glenn Phillips (who isn't New Zealand's Marnus Labuschagne), reminded everyone of his all-round potential.  

Their overall plans though to claim that final wicket on day two, were, well, what even were they?  

The fielding didn't back up the efforts of the bowlers either, and continues to be a major concern for a team that, as is often said when mistakes occur, prides itself on it, and is usually a match-winning strength.

Put bluntly, in the end, Australia were just better.

While a lot of the Aussies played their parts, their biggest influences came from two players at either end of their careers - a two-metre baby-faced all-rounder who, while he looks like he hasn't entered puberty, appeared to come of age in front of our eyes.

The other, a wily veteran who dished up a dazzling display of off-spin bowling while wearing sunglasses that look like they should be worn on a night out on Courtenay Place.

It's not doom and gloom, after all, this is one game, and this Blackcaps team is still filled with match-winners and will have a point to prove in the second test. They'll be hurt by this.

But as they now head to Christchurch, it could be a matter of genuflecting, as well as reflecting.

They may need a Hail Mary at Hagley, if the result is to change.

Alex Chapman is a Newshub sport reporter