Specials – Best of the Tests : Australia v New Zealand

  The Trans-Tasman Trophy is back after a period of four years as Australia host New Zealand for what promises to be a highly enticing three-Test series starting from 5th November. Adding to the excitement is the fact that the third Test at Adelaide will be the first ever day-night Test match in the history of the game.

  Though Australia have enjoyed a clear edge over the years, winning 27 out of 52 Tests played till date, New Zealand have had their share of landmark moments against them, most notably the twin series successes – both home and away – in the 1985-86 season.

  While the Australians are always a tough nut to crack in home conditions, the Black Caps have not lost a series in the past two and a half years. With just a few days to go before the two evenly-matched sides square up at the Gabba in Brisbane, we go down memory lane to revisit five memorable Test matches contested between the two nations.

2nd Test, Christchurch, 1973-74

  After three defeats and two draws, New Zealand secured their first win over Australia at the multi-purpose Lancaster Park. It also helped them to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Just two months earlier, Australia had defeated New Zealand 2-0 in a home series, also consisting of three matches.

  The Chappell brothers Ian – who was the captain – and Greg were in imperious form coming into this match, both having reeled off twin hundreds in the drawn opening Test at Wellington. But this time, they were sent back quickly thanks to the efforts of Richard Hadlee and skipper Bevan Congdon. Put in to bat after a slight rain delay, the visitors stumbled to 128/5 on the first day.

  Opener Ian Redpath laboured to score 71, which helped Australia end their first innings at 223. Hadlee, Congdon and Richard Collinge all took three wickets each. Glenn Turner and John Parker put on 59 for the first wicket in reply, but the Australian seam bowlers Max Walker and Geoff Dymock chipped away with timely strikes.

  Only Turner batted with the neccessary application, and was unbeaten on 99 when New Zealand ended the second day at 194/5. He reached his hundred the following morning, but was out soon after to Greg Chappell for 101. No other batsman crossed 24. The last five wickets fell for 42 as New Zealand took a narrow lead of 32. Walker bowled well to take 4/60.

  Collinge and Richard Hadlee then jolted Australia’s top order, reducing the score to 33/3. Keith Stackpole and both the Chappells were all dismissed for single figures. Redpath (58) starred again and he added 106 with Ian Davis (50) for the fourth wicket before both fell to Hadlee (4/71) in quick succession. Keith Walters was unbeaten on 52 as Australia finished day three at 211/6.

  As play resumed after the rest day, Richard’s elder brother Dayle Hadlee (4/75) dismissed Walters for 65, an innings that helped the eventual total recover to 259. New Zealand, set a target of 228, were again given a sound start by openers Turner and Parker, who put on 51. However Walker removed Parker and John Morrison to even things out.

  Congdon was soon run out as the score now slipped to a worrisome 62/3. But Turner was in his element and he found able support from Brian Hastings (46). They soothed the nerves of the spectators with a fourth-wicket stand worth 115. As the final day began, New Zealand were 177/4 and on the cusp of victory, with Turner unbeaten on 85.


    Glenn Turner during the Christchurch Test in 1973-74. He scored centuries in both innings to guide New Zealand to their first win against Australia (source – odt.co.nz)

  Turner duly reached his second century of the match, thus becoming the first New Zealander to achieve the feat. He remained unbeaten on a patient 110, batting for more than six hours and facing 355 balls. It was wicketkeeper Ken Wadsworth who hit the winning four off Greg Chappell as New Zealand reached 230/5 to complete a famous win.

3rd Test, Melbourne, 1987-88

  Australia managed to hang on to a 1-0 series victory by the skin of their teeth as the two teams played out an enthralling draw in the Boxing Day Test, the third and final of the series. Allan Border invited the visitors to bat and Tony Dodemaide removed Phil Horne with the score on 32.

  The dependable pair of John Wright and Andrew Jones shared in a second-wicket partnership of 79 before Jones was controversially dismissed for 40. He was out caught behind by Greg Dyer off Craig McDermott, to a catch which was later found to have bounced before being taken. Wright and Martin Crowe further added 68 for the third wicket.

  Wright was agonisingly out for 99, caught behind off McDermott as well. McDermott bowled excellently to add the wickets of Jeff Crowe and Dipak Patel to his tally. New Zealand finished the opening day at 242/5, with Crowe looking assured at 76*. He could however only extend his score to 82, giving McDermott (5/97) his fifth wicket.

  Wicketkeeper Ian Smith, batting at number nine, rallied well with the tail before being last out to Mike Whitney (4/92) for a quickfire 44. New Zealand’s innings terminated at 317. The evergreen Richard Hadlee gave his side the edge as he took the key scalps of David Boon, Geoff Marsh and Dean Jones to reduce the score to 31/3.

  Australia struggled to 121/5 before Steve Waugh and Peter Sleep steered the total to 170 without any further damage at stumps. Waugh failed to add to his overnight score of 55 on the third morning, but Sleep went on to make a career-best score of 90. He and Tony Dodemaide (50) frustrated the Kiwis with a grinding 80-run stand for the eighth wicket.

  Dodemaide and McDermott added a further 61 for the ninth wicket to help Australia into the lead. Australia were all out for 357 at the fag end of the third day, with Hadlee returning 5/109. With a first-innings difference of 40 and two days to go, the match hung in the balance.

  Horne and Wright mopped off the deficit with an opening stand of 73 before they both fell within three runs of each other. Crowe was in an attacking mood and he dominated a third-wicket partnership with Jones worth 82 runs. He eventually fell to Border’s 100th Test catch off Dodemaide for 79 in just under two hours.

  The score motored along to 272/5 before Dodemaide (6/58) inspired a lower-order collapse. New Zealand were bowled out for 286 in the first over of the final day, thereby setting Australia 247 in 92 overs. Boon (54) and Border (43) guided the chase and at 176/4 with 28 overs left, Australia were in the box seat.

  At 209/5, Hadlee (5/67) removed Sleep. At the same score, a settled Mike Veletta fell to John Bracewell for 39. Seven runs later, the tireless Hadlee sent back Dyer. When Dodemaide became Hadlee’s tenth victim of the match, Australia needed 20 with the last wicket and 4.5 overs left. McDermott and Whitney held out amid pure tension as Australia escaped by ending at 230/9.

Only Test, Perth, 1989-90

  The next time the two teams met after the Melbourne draw was in a one-off Test at Perth two years later. It turned out to be another gripping affair. John Wright inserted Australia in, but David Boon and debutant Tom Moody put on 149 for the second wicket after Mark Taylor’s early dismissal.

  Moody fell for a composed 61, which brought captain Allan Border to the middle. Boon and Border put the bowling to the sword as Australia finished the first day at a healthy 296/2, Boon unbeaten on 169. Their third-wicket partnership realised 142 before Border was out for 50. Boon went on to score an exact 200, coming off 326 balls with 28 fours.

  Dean Jones ensured there was no respite for the Kiwi bowlers as he struck 99 from number five. The declaration came at 521/9. Pacemen Danny Morrison and Martin Snedden toiled hard to take four wickets apiece. New Zealand, who were 25/0 overnight, resumed on the third morning with a positive intent.


      Mark Greatbatch scored a marathon 146*, batting for nearly 11 hours to help New Zealand save the Perth Test in 1989-90 (source – gettyimages/ espncricinfo.com)

  Mark Greatbatch (76) and Martin Crowe (62) took the total to a solid 173/2 courtesy a third-wicket alliance of 89, but Merv Hughes’ (4/51) dismissal of Greatbatch sparked a woeful collapse. The last eight wickets could muster just 58 runs between them as New Zealand folded for 231 on the fourth morning, a whopping 290 runs in arrears.

  Border enforced the follow-on and the situation became worse for the visitors. Openers Wright and Bert Vance were both back in the hut with 11 runs on the board. Greatbatch and Crowe added 68 for the third wicket, but New Zealand needed much more if they were to survive. They ended day four at 168/4 with Greatbatch batting resolutely on 69.

  Greatbatch resisted all tempting deliveries but his hard work seemed to have gone in vain when Hughes had Jeff Crowe (49) LBW and Ian Smith caught by Border in successive balls to make the score 189/6. Greatbatch though was concentration personified and battled with determination, reaching his hundred from 341 balls after lunch.

  Greatbatch and Chris Cairns shared 45 runs for the seventh wicket before the latter’s dismissal. At this point, New Zealand were still 56 behind. The gutsy southpaw found an equally obstinate partner in Snedden, and the eighth-wicket pair steadily played out time. At tea, New Zealand were 282/7, now trailing by eight.

  Australia went wicketless in the final session as Greatbatch and Snedden (33* in 142 balls) produced one of the great stonewalling efforts. They added an unbeaten 88 in 48.3 overs and 202 minutes as New Zealand reached 322/7. Greatbatch returned to the pavillion a hero, facing 485 balls for his 146* which took five minutes short of eleven hours.

1st Test, Brisbane, 2001-02

  Steve Waugh’s all-conquering Australians were considered invincible at home, but they found a stiff challenge in the form of Stephen Fleming’s Black Caps who managed to hold them to a 0-0 stalemate in the three-Test series. The closest of the draws came in the opener at the Gabba.

  After being put in to bat, Australian openers Justin Langer (104) and Matthew Hayden (136) piled up a 224-run partnership. However a collapse of 6/39 brought New Zealand right back into the game. Australia ended the first day at 294/6. Rain proceeded to affect each of the next three days.

  Australia bounced back with a rapid 135-run stand for the eighth wicket between Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee (61). Gilchrist cracked 118 off just 158 balls with 17 fours and a six. Waugh declared at 486/9 on the third day and a draw seemed inevitable. Lee (5/67) and Jason Gillespie reduced New Zealand to 55/4 in reply.

  But Nathan Astle (66) ensured that New Zealand went into the final day at a relatively safer 186/5. He shared in a 95-run stand for the sixth wicket with Chris Cairns, who smote a quick 61 to add to his 5/146. With the follow-on mark overhauled, Fleming came up with a sporting declaration at 287/8 just before lunch.

  Waugh, being the aggressive captain he was, soon announced his own intentions, declaring Australia’s second innings at 84/2, the runs coming in just 14 overs. New Zealand were thus set an alluring 284 runs to win from 57 overs. A dull Test match had suddenly sprung to life in the last two sessions.

  Mark Richardson struck a brisk 57 and shared in a stand of 56 for the second wicket with Matthew Sinclair. Both batsmen fell within the space of a run as New Zealand stumbled to 90/3. Fleming (57) and Astle (49) put the chase back on track with a fourth-wicket partnership of 100 in less than 19 overs.

  Astle’s dismissal brought Cairns to the middle, at which point the requirement was 94 from 83 balls. Fleming was run out soon after, but Cairns charged at the Australians with 43 off 38 balls including two sixes. With 20 needed off 11 balls, Cairns was out caught by Ponting on the boundary off Lee. New Zealand eventually finished at 274/6, just ten short of a stunning victory.

2nd Test, Hobart, 2011-12

zzzzz    Doug Bracewell celebrates a wicket at Hobart in 2011-12 even as David Warner looks on. New Zealand won a thriller by just seven runs (source – pakistantoday.com.pk)

  Ten years after their drawn series against an Australian side at its peak, the Black Caps repeated the result, this time in a two-Test series. Coming into this match at the Bellerive Oval, Australia were favourites to take the rubber after an easy nine-wicket win in the first Test at Brisbane.

  Michael Clarke had no hesitation in putting New Zealand in to bat on a grassy wicket. The hosts’ pace trio of James Pattinson (5/51), Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc destroyed the top order. New Zealand crashed to 60/6 in the first session itself. Dean Brownlie, playing his third Test, stemmed the rot with a gutsy 56 from number six.

  He shepherded the tail and was the only one to cross 20. The innings wound up at 150 before the first day ended prematurely due to rain, Australia being 12/1. The second day was yet again dominated by the bowlers as the Australian batsmen failed to cope up with the pace and swing of the quartet of Chris Martin, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell.

  The top and middle order imploded as the score slid to 75/7. Martin, Boult and Bracewell took three wickets each. It took a 56-run stand for the eighth wicket between Siddle (who top-scored with 36) and Pattinson to revive the final total to 136. With New Zealand leading by just 14 runs, the Test was now akin to a second-dig shootout.

  New Zealand lost their top three with 73 on the board in the second innings. However Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson added 66 for the fourth wicket. Another eventful day ended with New Zealand at 139/3. Williamson fell early on the third day, while Taylor went on to score a defiant 56.

  From 171/4, New Zealand regressed to 203/9 before debutant Boult struck a few vital blows to take the total to 226. Pattinson, Siddle and off-spinner Nathan Lyon all chipped in with three wickets, leaving their side with as many as seven sessions to score 241 runs.

  By stumps on the third day, Australian openers Phil Hughes and David Warner cruised to 72/0, thus providing the perfect start to the chase. Warner was in great touch and added a further 50 for the second wicket with Usman Khawaja. At 159/2 and with Warner and Ricky Ponting in the middle, the game was Australia’s to lose.

  However 21-year-old Bracewell, playing only his third Test, proceeded to bowl a game-changing spell. Bracewell (6/40) scalped Ponting, Clarke and Michael Hussey – the latter two in successive balls – even as Warner fought on. Three wickets had fallen for no run and the game was wide open. Except for Warner, no batsman crossed even 23. 

  Another catastrophic slide from 192/5 to 199/9 seemed like the final blow for the hosts. But Warner, who carried his bat in vain for 123 off 170 balls with 14 fours, and Lyon added 34 to ignite hope among the spectators before Bracewell castled Lyon with tea approaching to script a seven-run win for New Zealand – their first against Australia in 19 years.

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