Thomas Hunter writes:

When was the last time you heard a coach admitting his team was afraid of the opposition? Chances are, not that recently, unless of course you caught John Bracewell’s appraisal of his players’ efforts over the weekend.

Playing in the first of three one-dayers that will decide the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, New Zealand was humbled by 147 runs, with Brett Lee terrorising the top order, taking 3 for 5 from six overs.

While Lee admitted it was a dream pitch for him, Bracewell threw the blame directly onto his own players.

In today’s Daily Telegraph, Bracewell said: “When you’ve got played-ons and caught-behinds with the face opening up, it’s that you’re not in behind the ball. That’s not a technique – it might be a mental technique.”

The New Zealand media has not been sympathetic. The New Zealand Herald reported that “most of the top order batsmen are ready to faint at the site of Lee.” James Marshall was “virtually vaporised,” and Hamish Marshall was “defeated before he could move his feet.” For his part, Lee was pelted with fruit and plastic bottles by the crowd.

Typically, the Australians have seized on Bracewell’s admission. “I think there will be a few of their batsmen who aren’t really happy with the way they were dismissed,” Australian captain Ricky Ponting said. “There were a few ugly ones there.”