Australia on top

Australia V New Zealand – 1st Test – Woolloongabba Cricket Ground – Day 3 – 3 November, 2011

JJ Leahy

New Zealand 295 & 10/1

Australia 427

First Session

The grey leaden clouds of the first two days had been replaced white puffy ones barely moving against clear blue sky as Australia resumed at 145/3. Ricky Ponting still possesses an unquenchable competitive drive, and Michael Clarke a desire to establish himself as a respected leader occupying the most important role in the Nation.

Ponting looked comfortable until the venerable Chris Martin, even older than Ricky, did him with an-inswinger that would have just taken the leg stump. As befitting his status, Australia used one of its decision referrals to no avail. This was a second successive useful innings by Ponting.  He must be getting close to cementing his role for a final summer.

Michael Hussey laboured for his 15 (49 balls) before he went a little too far forward to a ball from Daniel Vettori that went from bat to pad and popped up to Jessie Ryder at short leg. This is Ryder’s fielding position. The big fella does not have the speed across the ground for the covers or mid-wicket or as an outfield sweeper, but he is one and a half normal fielders wide and will thus save a few runs per innings.

Clarke enjoyed good fortune the previous day when he was bowled off a no ball. Fortune favoured him again today when keeper Reece Young dropped a sitter off the bowling of Bracewell when he was 85. Later in the day, Young was struck in the face off a ball by Vettori that reared up. Blood flowed and he left the field for treatment. Brenan McCullum donned the gloves.

Brad Haddin is another feeling the hot breath of expectation on the back of his neck. He was very cautious and plodded along. This denied Clarke an opportunity to reach his century by lunch. Clarke did not tempt fate and went to the break on 99.

Second Session

The century came in the first over. New Zealand took the new ball as soon as it was available, but by the 98th over Kane Williamson was bowling innocuous offies at one end with Daniel Vettori bowling a better class of spin at the other. Haddin had started to his a few fours and this was the response.

Australia went to tea at 345/5 – 91 runs for no loss of wicket but the consensus of the group I went with was that it was dull but for a brief flurry when the new ball was taken.



Third session

In the first over back, Clarke swung at a short one from Chris Martin that caught a top edge and the ball was accepted by Southee in the deep behind square leg. While this was an innings of good fortune and, in no way can be compared to the magnificent 150 in the recent Test against South Africa, it did demonstrate by reaching 139, Clarke can play the long innings.

Attention then turned to whether Haddin could get three figures. Siddle got a duck. Pattinson hung around for 12 while Haddin plodded along. Ross Taylor dropped Starc second ball off Bracewell. Opening batsman Martin Guptill was handed the ball. It was starting to look like the Under 10s where everyone gets a bowl. Haddin hit him for six. In his second over, Guptill got his revenge when Haddin lofted it to mid-on where Martin took it cleanly. A knock of 80 from Haddin that stretched Australia’s lead nicely. Starc had a bit of fun and ended up on 32 not out when Southee got Lyon.

The late afternoon wisdom that is dispensed at the Gabba after being enhanced by a few beers and the tiring effects of the heat of the day was that Mickey Arthur is still on his L Plates with the lower order batting. Starc has shown before this innings that he can bat a bit. Pattinson showed some reasonable technique (more than Phillip Hughes), and Nathan Lyon has top scored for his country. The consensus was Siddle to bat at 11.

New Zealand came out to face Pattinson and Siddle who both bowled with good pace and control. In the seventh over, Pattinson captured the prized wicket of McCullum when he got the edge of the bat,and Ponting in the slips snaffled it.


Australia finished the day on top. It was a productive, yet in some ways unsatisfying day’s play. Australia, against a bowling attack of this calibre, should have been more aggressive and gone after the bowling to break their spirit and really force the pace. They proceeded cautiously and methodically.

The Australian XI still has a way to go to find its confidence and authority.


Post – Script

At the end of play, Ian Healy was being interviewed by an attractive young lady from Channel Nine close to the boundary. The crowd gave Heals a few suggestions which, as a gentleman, he ignored. Shortly after the interview was complete, Michael Clarke came striding around the boundary surrounded by various functionaries and obviously heading under the stand for an interview.

A blond in a black dress who clearly had enjoyed a long day and many refreshments called out “ Michael! Michael! Clarke strode past not turning his head and disappeared under the stand. She cried out; “Clarkie, you are not the only one that has media commitments.”  It gave the crowd a laugh to send them on the way home.




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