Australia v New Zealand – First Test, Day 2: Captain Paine does the trick



As “hot as Hades” has nothing on the weather in Perth today and by the start of play the temperature had reached 40 degrees.


With the ground baked yesterday the outfield has been extremely fast and where the fieldsmen were getting to the ball yesterday it is beating them to the boundary today. With one bowler short the Black Caps could be in trouble taking wickets after a lion-hearted day yesterday.


A message has come to us that there has been a fire lit at nearby Belmont Park Race Track. There certainly are some bloody idiots out there everyone at the ground.  Well done to the authorities here for advising everyone at the ground but I daresay they have forgotten about the fire already.


Both batsmen look in ominous form and already have hit some delightful boundaries.  Head in fact has 7 in his 39 runs so far.


Wagner strikes like the Valkyries! Labuschagne on 143 goes to flick him to leg and misses it completely and the leg stump is knocked back.  Wagner is a Valkyrie and he charges down the pitch with anger and joy rolled into one.  If only Richard was alive, he would write an opera after his namesake. He now has 3/70 and Australia are 5/301.


A fine innings by Labuschagne who is the first number 3 since Bradman to make three consecutive hundreds in a Test match for Australia.


The wicket has put the brakes on the Australian scoring. Captain Paine comes to the wicket with the “hatchet men” waiting for him to fail with the bat so that they again can call for his scalp put Smith back as captain and bring Carey into the team. Of all the Australian captains probably only Ian Johnson (1956) and Graham Yallop (Packer years) have had as much negative and in many cases misleading press written about them.


Head makes a welcome 50, for him at least, with nine fours but he does not last much longer. On 56 he tries to slam the lion-hearted Southee through the covers only he is too far away from the ball and only succeeds at picking out Santner in the covers. Australia now 6/315 and the vice-captain has let a big score go begging.


The weather just keeps getting hotter and hooter and the New Zealanders are feeling it. Paine and Cummins have changed the attitude and are making sure that they retain their wickets. Cummins (20) finally falls when a ball from “relief’” bowler Raval brushes his leg and hits his leg stump.  Australia are now 7/363 and using up time.


Starc (30) plays a rollicking innings as he can but gets out when attempting another big hit of Southee is caught. Australia 8/408 with Paine continuing to be defiant at one end.  One does not have to be Einstein to realise that the Aussie skipper is keen to take up time with the view to putting the Kiwis in late in the afternoon.


Lyon (8) goes for a big hit and “The Grand Man” takes a fine catch running in from the boundary. 9/416 becomes all out 416 when Paine has a lash at Southee and is caught behind.


Of the last four wickets to fall Paine only scores 15 runs and finishes with 39 but he has kept the visitors in the field for most of the day.


Of the bowlers who toiled hard today and yesterday Wagner 4/92 at 2.48 per over and Southee 4/93 were easily the best. There work throughout was real tradesmen stuff. Shades of coalminers from Yorkshire – Larwood, Trueman and Gough.


Paine’s tactic bears fruit straight away and within 10 minutes New Zealand are 2/1.  Latham is the first to go when he gets a leading edge for Starc to take an easy catch. Next over bowls Raval with a ball that was too good for the batsman.  The NZ play has not proved to be the ideal opening batsman and he should have defended that ball; lack of ability was his downfall.


There is no doubt that the New Zealand players were feeling the heat after nearly two days in boiling weather. The wickets were taken too easily. You bet!


As usual it is now up to the two best batsmen in the team to steady the ship. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have had many long partnerships in their career and they need this one as well for New Zealand to get back into the game.


They go along comfortably until the score reaches 77 when Williamson (34) is magnificently caught by Smith diving a long way to his right to grab the ball one-handed.  A match-winning catch if ever there was one. Starc has 2/14 and is again proving to be the best bowler of this summer.


It was one of the great catches in cricket if ever there was one.


Meanwhile Ross Taylor shows the Perth crowd why he is such a grand player and reaches his umpteenth 50 in Test cricket.


Starc takes his third wicket for the innings when he teases Nicholls with three balls in a row and gets him with the third when he tickles it through to Paine who takes a fine diving catch. 4/97 becomes 5/97 next ball when Wagner the night watchman plays-on from a ball he could have let go.  Starc has now taken 4/28 from 10 overs.


Taylor plays out Starc’s hat trick ball in his next over and he and Watling played out the evening to see their team at 5/109 at stumps Taylor 66 and Watling 0.  Mitchell Starc (his day) 4/31 and the injured Josh Hazlewood 1/0.


Australia are well on top with Paine’s shrewd captaincy and Starc’s bowling the two main features of the day.  Ross Taylor and BJ Watling have a big job tomorrow.  They have done it before but we will see when tomorrow comes.


On a personal note, many thanks to Andrew, Yorick and BJ from St John Ambulance and the staff in Emergency at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital for looking after me today. Thanks a million.


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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.


  1. Sorry to hear of your health issue, CB, but relieved that quality assistance was to hand. Your wellbeing is more important than the cricket.

    On the field, Paine played it well, as you say. Bat out the first two sessions, then unleash. Throw in a screaming catch and the Aussies are one or two early wickets away from impregnable. But it will be a challenge with one less bowler.

    Is there a way to introduce substitute bowlers to cover for an injury?

  2. Crikey, Citrus. And you still pumped out a report. No doubting your love of the game.

  3. Good day for Australia. Unfortunately a change did come over the game when we became a bowler short. Taylor and Watling must be separated reasonably early or NZ could add plenty of runs today.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Geepers Bob, you’ve redefined the meaning of “above and beyond”. Hope you are now ok.

  5. IH : More like baseball every day now so it wont be long before we can replace inured bowlers.

    JTH. my forebears were famous sea-captains in the days of Elizabeth I (Sir Robert and Sir Riches Utber out of Lowestoft) so we will always go down with our ship

    FISHO – NZ completely outplayed by a group of bowlers who are probably the best in the world.

    SWISH – the best medicine is cricket and I am taking plenty of that thanks.

  6. Bob, much more enjoyable last 2 days after the dreary first day. Aussie bowlers attacking to attacking fields meant both runs and wickets – just what cricket needs. Now it’s up to our batsmen to rattle on some runs. Hope the Kiwis don’t go too defensive again.

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