Australia v New Zealand – Gabba Test, Day 3: We Were Saying ‘Boo-urns’

No one was really surprised, were they?

Australia amassed 4/556 against a New Zealand attack so ineffectual that the skittish-footed Usman Khawaja made his maiden century. No one pretended to be impressed with the Aussies. No one even pretended that the Kiwis were ‘brave’ or ‘earnest’. A country of 4.5 million people more concerned with rugby than cricket would have to do an awful lot right to go into a match against even a weakened Australia as favourites.

New Zealand held their nerve well enough to get to 5/157 at stumps on Day Two with Kane Williamson on 55 and BJ Watling on 14, at least indicating that their batting had more endurance than their bowling. However there was nothing left beyond that pair: a target of over 250 would impress many.

That estimate dropped to 225 when Watling joined many of his teammates in softly snicking to slips off Mitch Johnson. However Williamson found staunch allays in Mark Craig and Doug Bracewell, who both swatted a few runs in between holding an end. Williamson was free to focus on his game – and for a little over an hour, he was in control of play. Johnson was bedevilled by Williamson’s knack of perfectly timing glances all the way to the boundary: no matter how fast Johnson hurled his deliveries, Williamson was comfortable and productive. Eventually, Johnson was forced to merely limit Williamson by going over the wicket and occasionally beating the outside edge. By the end of the innings he was grumpily reduced to intimidating tail-enders with bumpers: he looked like a pop star conceding to play a decades old fan favourite song.

More exciting was the tussle between Nathan Lyon and Williamson, a contest which ended too soon when Steve Smith decided to go for the kill and unleash Starc at the Kiwi tail. Williamson goes forward and down quickly against spin: Lyon eschewed the flatter delivery in the hope of bringing bat-pad into play. However, Williamson never played the loose shot that he was seemingly bordering on: a few boundaries here and there and he added the balding New South Welshman to his scalps. Williamson moved from 90 to his eleventh Test century with three well composed shots: a push through gully that rode off Johnson’s pace, a tight slap through cover and a nudge to backward square.

Inevitably New Zealand’s tail’s game plan of only scoring by slogging cost them their wickets: Mitch Marsh removed Bracewell in the first over after lunch and Southee lost his off stump at the hands of Mitch Starc. Three overs later Starc caught Williamson’s inside edge with an inswinging yorker and New Zealand were all out for 317. Starc gave New Zealand’s hero a Steynish glare; the days when he happily gambolled around like a cheeky boy band member are a strange and distant memory.

Wisden is known for recording all sorts of extraordinary stats but even the cricket Bible wouldn’t have covered a thought that came to me within five overs of the commencement of Australia’s second innings: David Warner and Joe Burns hold the record for Happiest Test Opening Pair, a feat they have established over the last three days. Warner was cracking jokes with the Kiwi infield before his defensive strokes stopped moving. Burns chuckled with Kiwi keeper BJ Watling about how close he was to being run out. In between, they slaughtered New Zealand. Warner could hit the ball just about anywhere in his current form. Trent Boult and Jimmy Neesham insisted on bowling short to a 7-2 field, so he was happy to stick to plundering the square leg boundary. Within 80 minutes, each had comfortably strolled their way to another half century.

Apart from Mark Craig, no New Zealand bowler could even slow down Burns and Warner. Although the latter was content to roll singles around the field, Burns had no intention of letting slip a chance at cementing his place in the Test side. Heavy rain clouds loomed over the Gabba and Burns began to tee off – as the rain began to fall heavily, he brought up his maiden Test century with consecutive towering sixes over mid-off. The last Aussie batsman to do so was the great Stephen Rodger Waugh – a comparison Burns would be privately delighted with.

Warner reached his 14th Test century and then brought himself undone by skying a switch hit – a questionable and demeaning decision from the vice-captain. Burns went for 129. Brendon McCullum was sneeringly labelled ‘Mr Nice Guy’ by Warner in the days leading up to the First Test, but if Vlad the Impaler had been named New Zealand’s captain there still would not have been enough nastiness to stop this Australian barrage.

It’s hard to gauge where the Aussies are at. We’ve won the World Cup, been thrashed by England and thrashed New Zealand in the last six months.

So I guess we’re better than New Zealand.

Australia 4/556

New Zealand 317
K Williamson 140
T Latham 47
M Starc 4/57
M Johnson 3/105

Australia 4/264
J Burns 129
D Warner 116
M Craig 3/78

Australia leads by 503

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

Comments

  1. E.regnans says:

    Thanks C O’Connor.
    Hopefully I’ll see a bit of this game tomorrow.
    Interesting Lyon v Williamson observations. They may see a bit of each other over the next few weeks.

    Happiest opening partnerships?
    Super category. And fair nominations.
    I’ll throw in Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya from the 1996ish World Cup campaign.
    Joyfully taking the rest of the world apart.

  2. The Australian test team has been blessed with some marvellous opening combinations. In more recent times we’ve had Hayden and Langer, followed by Rogers and Warner. Now in their inaugural test pairing as openers Burns and Rogers are the first pair of Aussie openers to score a century opening stand in both innings of a test! How good is that ?

    Glen!

  3. Actually whilst we’re on the topic of openers and records, it appears Dave Warner has also equalled another one in this test. I’m hearing he has joined Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting as the only chap to have scored tons in both innings of the same test, three times. Good on him.

    Glen!

  4. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great write up Callum. “Boo-Urns”, one of the best Simpsons lines.
    There was much love between Hayden & Langer. If Burns & Warner do half as well they’ll be a wonderful pairing.
    Kane Williamson is a super player. A few of his mates have been shown up on the first 3 days.

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