Australia v New Zealand – First Test, Day 3: The screws are tightened

“The Cricketer”
by Kate Birrell



Another stifling day in Perth and the heat gets to you the moment you walk out of your hotel but we are looking for another day of tough, no holds barred, relentless cricket.


Spent the early part of the day in the scorer’s box learning about the history of the two female scorers Sandra and Ann. I might add mainly for the interest of Ian Hauser who like myself enjoys the” other side” of cricket.


Sandra has now scored between 440 -450 matches at the WACA and the new Perth Stadium. Australian Rugby League captain Jack Rayner was her uncle.  Sandra grew up in Orange (NSW) as a fan of League and cricket. She began scoring for her father’s team at the age of 13 and has enjoyed every minute of it. In her spare time, she scores for Wanneroo.


Ann, a schoolteacher by profession, was “conned into it” by former first-class cricketer Terry McGill when his club Nedlands was short of a scorer and she has been scoring ever since. Has not been scoring as long as Sandra but she still scores for Claremont-Nedlands as well as the first-class fixture in Perth.


Both are disappointed that even the passion for scoring has been lost and there are many scorers now who get paid for their “work”. “The love for the game is no longer there and most scorers are wanting to be paid” they said.


The play starts slowly with a watchful eye by both batsmen. Watling should have been run out on 1 when Paine failed to take a return from Lyon.  Fortunately for Australia BJ did not last long and played on to Cummins with his score on 8.  New Zealand 6/120.


The “Big Man” joins Taylor who continues to thwart the Australian attack and with both Lyon and Labuschagne in the attack the batsmen are going for their shots.


Lyon gets Taylor (80) when he pins him down for Smith to take a sharp catch. At 7/147 the New Zealand team could be dismissed before the “big break”.  The veteran has played another fine innings for his country.


Will Australia force a follow-on?  There is no chance of this happening in these conditions.  They will want to build on a handsome lead and put the Kiwis in last on a turning wicket.


Starc gets his fifth wicket when de Grandhomme (23) gets a nasty one that jumps and he cannot get his bat and arm out of the way and the ball dollies to Smith. New Zealand 8/155 and Starc has taken 5/51 I a fine spell of bowling.


Australia have been aggressive again during this period and continue to hold the whip-hand and the New Zealand batsmen have not been able to counterattack.


At last Manu gets a wicket in Australia! Santner (2) swishes at him and is clean bowled 9/166. Southee (8) swishes at Lyon and Neser (sub) takes the catch. No addition to the score and New Zealand is 250 behind and Australia will bat again. Starc 5/52, Lyon 2/48 with Cummins, Labuschagne and Hazlewood 1 each.


Australia come out for one over before the “big break” for one run. Why?  Just because it is cricket and the rules are the rules!


Warner is getting pretty fussy in his dotage and wants the roaming camera moved. Burns has struggled and has taken 25 balls to score his first run of the innings.  No doubt he is anxious to consolidate his position in the team with a big score.


The Australians are in no hurry as the half way mark of the Test approaches and they are averaging 2 runs per over at this stage.


The bowlers are peppering the batsmen with a series of short balls in an attempt to keep the scoring rate down and they are succeeding.


Southee does bowl a short one and Warner (19) tempted at last hooks, but miss times it and Blundell (sub) takes a simple catch at mid-on.  Australia 1/44.


The Big Man makes a mess of a Labuschagne (3) miss hook and lets him off it!  Have the boys from across the ditch found a weakness in Labu? On the other hand, will Labuschagne be even more determined to not lose his wicket.


Burns is now looking very confident and he is starting to play some fine shots.


The largest sports lighting system in the world is now on (5.30pm WDT). There are 891 flood lights in the system. Did you guys from the Eastern states know that the Perth Stadium was awarded the prestigious Prix Versailles for Sport as the “Most Beautiful Sports Facility in the World” by UNESCO?


At the “little break” Australia are cruising along at 1/75 a lead of 325 and increasing.


Runs are coming along steadily for the two batsmen and the attack is lacking penetration which is not hard to understand given that they have had little rest in the three days of play. Burns (42) and Labuschagne (30) are steadily building a big partnership.


Can’t say that it is inspiring cricket as New Zealand seem content on containment and are now placing really defensive field in attempt to quell Joe and Marnus. Good example is the field for Tim Southee one of the finest medium pacers in the world: deep third man, short third man, deep point, short mid-off, cover, mid-off, mid-on, deep square leg, deep fine leg and no slips!


Sensation! Umpire Aleem Dar goes down in a crash and hurts his knee, a 5-minute delay as the super spray is applied.


The Australians are now attacking the negative field placings with some adroit strokes and the lead is now 370.  Burns, in good form now, reaches his half century of 103 balls.


Wagner has five on the leg side as he is now pitching the ball short attempting the batsmen to hook to this quintuplet of fieldsmen.


Labuschagne’s 50 comes up from 79 balls with 3 fours. A very sedate innings by his standards just picking up ones and twos due to the field placements employed by Williamson.


Cricket is in a time-warp until Labuschagne (50) plays a terrible shot of Wagner for Santner to take an easy catch. 2/131.  Wagner can certainly not be accused of not trying. He just throws his body into his work even though he lacks the pace of the Southees, Boults and Fergusons (thank you Gary Ayres!). A must for most teams.


Burns has scored 2 runs in the last half hour! What is he up to?  This is when he should have been driving the nail right into the opposition.  Smith, on the other hand is all business except for the short balls.


Burns’ lethargy gets him out when he guides a short ball from Southee straight to Nichols who takes a good catch at third slip. Burns 53 and Australia 3/148.


They got him again! Smith (16) hooks Wagner straight to Raval who takes a diving catch at mid-wicket. The visitors have certainly worked SPD out in this test and it has worked. Australia 4/154.


A crowd of 17,104 on a Saturday must have been a disappointment to WACA.  Despite the weather they would have expected at least 24,000.


Head (5) is the next to go when he turns Southee straight into the belly of “The Grand Man” 5/160. Paine (0) bowled neck and crop!  6/160 and Southee takes his 4th wicket.


A wonderful fight back by New Zealand in this last session and they have taken 5/35 and the way Wade is batting he could go any second. It is hard to see them wining from here but we all know that they will never give up without a fight.


The two “W’s” Wagner and Wade are having their own private battle with neither player giving an inch. We probably have seen the best cricket of the day in this last session which has been clearly won by New Zealand.


Wade and Wagner continue their “war” till stumps. Australia 6/167 with Wade 8 and Cummins 1. Tim Southee has 4/63 and Neil Wagner 2/40 in a great fight back in the last session.


Only one side can win – Australia but as we said NZ will fight to the bitter end.





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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. Appreciating your efforts, CB. Did the scorers offer you a dip into their lolly jar? Thanks for the research.

    I think the Aussies have played it pretty well all the way, albeit favoured by winning the toss. NZ look like grifters (good ones at that) playing the long game. The Aussies have also been patient and willing to grind it out. Burns played the innings necessary for his team.

    Two modest scores from Williamson – will we pay for that later in the series? Taylor gritty but just threw away his wicket – all over tonight?

    CB, what do you think of Gideon Haigh’s call that Optus Stadium is ‘sterile’?

  2. IH. Gideon has taken a caning here in the Press but I agree with him completely. I have called it Noah’s Ark and the animals want to get out. It is a concrete jungle and nothing else. Spectators are no where near the action with this high fence and a metre above the ground. Shades of the Coliseum. The only thing going for it is the railway line which deposits you 100 metres from the entrance. Today there is probably more security than people in attendance. Does not make you feel comfortable.
    The Aussies have played the game excellently – just a matter of wait and see.

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