New Zealand media on Tuesday said the national cricket side had plumbed new depths with a 4-0 series loss to minnows Bangladesh and predicted a mauling when the hapless side tours India.
"A nightmare beyond compare" ran a back-page headline in the New Zealand Herald, while Wellington's Dominion Post labelled the one-day side's performance in Bangladesh "a debacle". "How much lower can the sport go before someone acts?" asked the newspaper, calling for a clean-out of "incompetent administrators who have put cricket back years by being too cute".
The series, wrapped up by Bangladesh on Sunday in its first clean sweep against a major team, has seen the Black Caps slump to seventh in the international one-day rankings.
It was a bitter blow for a nation that is used to punching above its weight in the 50-over game -- reaching the World Cup semi-finals five times and holding the world number two ranking as recently as January.
"It all amounts to a shambles," the Herald said. "New Zealand have now lost their last six completed one-day internationals." Commentators said the only comparable low for New Zealand cricket was when England dismissed the Test side for 26 in 1955. But former captain John Reid said that match pitted the Black Caps against an England side boasting world-class talent such as Len Hutton, Colin Cowdrey and Frank Tyson, while Bangladesh struggled to reach international standard.
Cricket writer Richard Boock was succinct when asked on Radio NZ what went wrong: "The batting, the bowling, the fielding." "It was a 4-0 loss, they were outplayed completely from the first game to the last." The Christchurch Press newspaper blamed New Zealand's batsmen for placing their teammates under pressure.
"It defies belief that the batsmen could not adapt to the slow surface at Mirpur and play accordingly given the amount of cricket they have played," it said.
While the performance raised questions about New Zealand's chances at next year's World Cup, the Herald said the more immediate challenge was facing an Indian side next month which has just handed Australia a 2-0 Test drubbing.
"It's a shuddering thought," it said. Boock was similarly pessimistic about the idea of facing India in three Tests and five one-day internationals.
"India is a fantastic side right now, they'd be looking forward to beating anyone in their own backyard and New Zealand shouldn't pose too much of a problem," he said.