Saturday 20 January 2018 / 05:59 PM

Aus v NZ: 3rd Test wrap

The future of Test cricket

The hotly anticipated debut of day-night Test cricket was a rousing success. Although obviously helped by the dramatic tension of a remarkable match – after the stale run-fests of Brisbane and Perth – the crowd atmosphere and elements of variety the night session introduced could be the shot in the arm the long format of the game was searching for.

There’s still a place for traditional daytime Tests, but this natural progression looks set to gain a permanent foothold on the cricket calendar around the world.  

This contest was outstanding in its own right, despite finishing inside three days. Low-scoring but consistently exciting, it rates among the best Tests on Australian soil in recent years. New Zealand fought gallantly and were desperately unluckly, while the injury- and retirement-affected hosts were also resilient in pulling off a three-wicket triumph.

Match swings on DRS shocker

Whichever way it is analysed, the Black Caps were cruelled by one of the worst third-umpire blunders witnessed under the DRS system. It was inexcusable that Nigel Llong found a way to give Nathan Lyon not out, and the reprieve proved the unequivocal turning point of the match.

Following the farcical decision, when Australia was on the ropes at 8/118 in response the New Zealand’s modest 202, the then-scoreless Lyon went on to plunder a valuable 34 in a 74-run stand with Peter Nevill (66). It took the wind out of the Kiwis’ sails, the tourists eventually giving up a 22-run lead after the injured Mitchell Starc’s courageous 24 off 15 balls.

They may not have won the match had Lyon been correctly given out, but the Black Caps most certainly would have been in the box seat.

Bowlers dominate after torrid series

Brilliant batting displays, such as the double-centuries scored by David Warner and Ross Taylor, and superb tons by Kane Williamson and Usman Khawaja, are central to cricket’s appeal. But the lifeless Gabba and WACA pitches made for some tedious watching at times, and both sides’ pacemen made up for lost time at Adelaide Oval.

In the absence of Starc, Josh Hazlewood was sensational, claiming man-of-the-match honours thanks to his 6/70 in New Zealand’s second innings to give him nine scalps in total. The recalled Peter Siddle toiled valiantly, while Mitch Marsh again proved his talent as a key wicket-taker.

From the other dressing room, Trent Boult – disappointing in the series up until this point – excelled with six wickets on the dramatic final day, while the dogged Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee also enjoyed standout moments.

Nevill’s 66, incredibly, was the match’s high score, while Tom Latham (50) and Steve Smith (53) were the only others to reach the half-century mark.

Enigma Marsh plays key role

Shaun Marsh’s embarrassing run-out in the first inings looked to all but seal his fate as a Test cricketer after receiving a contentious recall for the injured Khawaja. But in the second innings Marsh stood tall when the match was in the balance, playing a patient 49 off 117 balls to wrest control back Australia’s way. He departed when the hosts were just 11 runs short of their target, but he paved the way for Siddle to finish the job without too much trouble and effectively sealed his retention for the upcoming Test schedule.

Santner’s debut to remember

Debuting as New Zealand’s all-rounder and No.6 batsman in the first-ever day-night Test sounds like a daunting assignment, but 23-year-old Mitchell Santner rose to the occasion and was arguably the Kiwis’ best player across the three days. The fresh-faced newcomer hit 31 off 46 balls in his maiden Test knock – after which he received a fiery send-off from Starc – and top-scored with 45 at an even more crucial juncture in the tourists’ second innings. Santner’s handy off-spin netted one wicket in each of Australia’s innings, while a dropped catch early in Steve Smith’s innings on Day 3 – which ultimately did not prove overly costly – was the only blot on his debut performance. Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham have their work cut out dislodged the exciting youngster from the all-rounder role.

Fun facts

  • The 2-0 result represents New Zealand’s first series loss in eight series and more than two years.
  • The average runs per wicket in this Test was just 21.13.
  • Nevill’s top score of 66 is the lowest ever in an Adelaide Test. In was the first time the venue failed to witness a century since 1993.
  • David Warner’s series aggregate on 592 is the fourth-highest ever in a series of three or fewer Tests, behind Graham Gooch, Brian Lara and Mohammad Yousuf.

[YouTube – Tushar Kumar]

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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