New Zealand have been starved of Test cricket competition against perennial heavyweights Australia, but the Black Caps have finally been invited back by their neighbours for an intriguing three-match series, which begins in Brisbane today.
On the back of their Ashes defeat and several veteran retirements, Australia face up to a tough rebuilding period, while the more settled New Zealand line-up will look to solidify their standing as a genuine Test force after many, many years of underachievement.
With the first Test at the Gabba only hours away, Throwback Thursday relives the rivals’ last Test encounter, at Bellerive Oval in 2011.
Australia had won the first Test in Brisbane by nine wickets, and another big win loomed in Hobart when the Kiwis were dismissed for a paltry 150. James Pattinson took 5/51 in just his second Test appearance, while Dean Brownlie (56) was the only Black Cap to score 20 or more.
But Australia’s reply was equally woeful, Peter Siddle top-scoring with 36 as the hosts crumbled to be 136 all out. Pace trio Chris Martin, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell nabbed three scalps apiece.
New Zealand, who had not won a Test against ‘big brother’ since 1993 and were winless on Australia soil since 1985, failed to ram home the advantage in their second dig, all out for 226. Ross Taylor held the innings together somewhat with 56, while Pattinson, Siddle and Nathan Lyon picked up three wickets each.
Australia was cruising to the modest target of 241 thanks to a 72-run opening stand between Phil Hughes and David Warner, but when Hughes fell for 20, the heavy favourites capitulated.
After a bit of resistance from Usman Khawaja (23), the hosts lost eight wickets for 77 runs to be 9/199, with Bracewell grabbing a five-for – including the prized wickets of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey in the space of nine balls.
He then removed Siddle, Pattinson and Mitchell Starc in the space of eight deliveries to all but wrap up a sensational victory.
Warner powered to his maiden Test century as he and Lyon neared a remarkable one-wicket escape act, but Bracewell proved the hero when he rattled Lyon’s stumps to secure 6/40 and a historic seven-run win for the underdogs.