Australia v New Zealand – First Test: Day 1 Report from Perth

Perth Stadium: DAY 1

 

The weather that has got the majority of us thinking there is more than lack of rain in the country has not given any preferential treatment to the first day/nighter at the Perth Stadium.  If ever there was a toss to win this was it with the ground temperature at around 40 degrees when Kane Williamson lost it.

 

No hesitation from Paine to bat and particularly with Trent Boult out of the NZ attack.  The Aussies are cock-a-hoop with their form at the moment but there were no second thoughts from Paine to have a dig.

 

Is this the first time a Test has been played in West Australia without a Sandgroper in the side?

 

Notice that the swimm9ng pool is getting great usage during this session. Not being an admirer of such “add-ons” the money could have been better spent.

 

Warner is in sparkling form right from the outset and has hit 2 sparkling fours from Ferguson who was intent on pitching the ball right up. At 28 and in his debut test Ferguson reminded me a lot like Darren Gough particularly from the back (side).

 

Noticed the two female scorers, who seem to have been around for years, with the biggest container of lollies I have ever seen. There were bananas, ripe raspberries, mints – lollies of all sorts for them to munch on through the long day ahead.

 

Already it is looking like a long day for the Kiwis.  Although beating the bat on the very odd occasion the two batsmen are in contr0l.

 

One of my fave players in Colin de Grandhomme makes the break through when he beats Burns (9) playing forward and is palpably LBW. Australia 1/40.  By name and by nature the “big man” is one of those players who seems to be always doing something for his team and it was a good ball that swung late to beat Burns. The son of Laurence who played 16 games with Zimbabwe and nephew of Bunny de Grandhomme (Northern Rhodesia) there is more pedigree than Michael Tuck’s boys (out of Ablett).

 

The visitors are bowling very tightly now that they have done away with a slip and a gully with Tim Southee being exceptionally accurate.  What a fine bowler he has been over the last 10 years and he will be hoping that his 31stbirthday (yesterday) will bring him some luck today.

 

The performance of the visitors today-night will be determined by how they survive the heat. Fortunately, the umpires today are not stopping intrusions by the “water-boys”. Fair enough with the temperature hovering and consistently around the 40 mark.

 

Labuschagne plays the shot of the first session with a classical cover drive of Santner.  He just keeps getting better and better.

 

2/75 when Warner (43) drives one back to Wagner who takes a superb catch diving to his right on his follow through. You won’t see to many better catches than that any day. Brilliant.

 

Only one New Zealand player wearing a white floppy hat which is surprising given the conditions but then again, the “Grand Man” is a different cat.

 

At the end of the session Australia 2/76 with, in my opinion, equal points for both sides.

 

Steady as she goes after the big break as Smith and Labuschagne try to blunt (and do) the bowling of Ferguson and Wagner although Wagner does make a couple of balls lift to Smith.  The bowlers always look for that little extra when bowling to SPD.

 

The shadows are now creeping across the ground (1648 hours) like a Praetorian Guard with their spears pointing towards the men in white/cream playing a tight game of cricket. It is tough going for the batsmen as the Kiwis continue to frustrate.

 

Santner is on and bowling a good length.  Hard to describe his bowling. It looks like he is caressing or even kissing the ball as he lopes in from eight paces and then somehow the ball comes out of his hand from somewhere behind his ear.  He is turning in to a very useful bowler now, having served his apprenticeship under the master Daniel Vettori.

 

The Praetorian Guard has nearly enveloped the pitch area and I am wondering what will happen once they cast at least a dozen shadows across the playing surface?

 

Ferguson bowls short to Labuschagne, he slashes it over the slips for another 50 (8 fours) in his short career as a Test cricketer. As we said earlier, he just keeps getting better with every innings he plays.  Meanwhile Smith is batting as the “new Smith” has done since his return to the game. Methodical, playing each ball on its merit and not doing anything stupid.

 

The shadows have now covered the pitch area and will cause no problems for the remainder of the evening.

 

Most of the work force of Perth would have finished for the day and a great majority have made their way to the ground for the remainder of the day’s play.  Probably get between 15,000 – 18,000 by the close of play.

 

Latham makes the big mistake of the day when he drops a relatively easy catch from Smith (19) at second slip.  This could prove very costly.  Should have been taken. Ferguson a bit stiff not to have his first Test wicket.

 

Bowlers are tiring and Labuschagne is striking the ball more confidently.  On the other hand, Smith would be still castigating himself from that error he made in the over before.

 

At the “little break” Australia are 2/160 with Labuschagne 68 and Smith 31.  As no wickets fell during the session you could say that Australia took the points but, in the conditions, NZ did very well and Latham’s catch could have turned the points their way.

 

Except for the missed catch the New Zealand fielding has been very good and the throwing to the wickets from the deep exceptional.

 

Labuschagne just continues to impress and Smith is looking ominous now. There is a surety in their batting and the Black Cap bowlers would love for the play to end for the day. They have toiled manfully for little reward in torrid conditions.

 

What a way to reach you century! Treating Santner with contempt Labuschagne dances down the pitch and hits him over mind-on for 6. Another wonderful innings full of assurance and some splendid boundaries (14 fours and 1 six).  Australia also reached 200 with that shot.

 

Smith (43) goes! Trying to hook Wagner he does not quite get hold of the stroke and Southee takes an easy catch, Australia now 3/207.

 

Labuschagne continues to direct the game and he is now more circumspect with a new batsman at the crease. He realises that for Australia to take control of the game then he and Wade must be there at stumps and start afresh tomorrow. A very astute cricketer is the new hero of Australia.

 

No sooner said than done when Wade (12) lets one go from Southee and is clean bowled.  Australia now 4/225 and the Kiwis fighting spirit comes to the fore again.  Like his compatriots Southee has been a model of consistency and only averaging 2 runs per over although newcomer Ferguson was understandably wayward at times.

 

The wickets of Smith and Wade have changed the pace of the game and the Australians are now content to see out the evening. They have only scored 19 in the last 45 minutes.

 

At stumps Australia is 4/ 248 Labuschagne 110 and Head 18.  A good day of solid Test cricket with the home side slightly on top.

 

 

 

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About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.

Comments

  1. Thanks for another great report, CB – you’re the Almanac’s “Everywhere Man” this season. Any chance of finding out the measurements/capacity of the scorers’ lolly jar? How far into it did they get by stumps?

    I think the Kiwis would be reasonably happy with things at the moment – both Warner and Smith gone and the questionable tail only a wicket or two away. Let’s see if Head can take advantage of his position today. Hard to add anything new about Labuschagne – he’s a machine. But we’ll only find out the real worth on the Australian score when NZ has its turn at the crease.

    Stay hydrated!

  2. I remember when DRS first came in to play,Skull described it as a uni student on drugs as seemed to be many bizarre decisions,Burns yesterday again was questionable.Kiwis being a bowler down may turn out to be v important,1st session today will dictate the games direction thanks,CB

  3. What an absolute dreary day’s play. NZ’s tactics of boring Smith out finally worked when he finally decided to lash out and was easily caught. Thank heaven for Labuschagne. Hopefully he and head can go on to score some runs a little faster than yesterday, if not I feel there’s not many runs in our tail. Paine is due for some runs.

  4. The Kiwi tactics were very obvious from the get-go. Ring the field, bowl tight, wait for mistakes. It worked up to a point.
    Not sure about the Burns decision, CB. I am with the DRS, I thought it was going down leg.

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