Australia v New Zealand – Second Test, Day 2: Cricket the big winner at the MCG

Started the day with breakfast with my friend Richard this morning and it was very interesting to hear him say that Kane Williamson made a mistake by sending Australia in to bat yesterday.


“Unless you take six or seven wickets it really never works,” he said.


He should know what he is talking about Richard after all he took over 400 Test wickets during his illustrious career. Good to hear him speak this morning at the Women in Cricket Breakfast and whilst interesting there was very little in the way of controversy.  Forever the diplomat which was in line with how he played the game.


The Kiwis need to take wickets early today to get back in the match.


It’s a perfect day for cricket and we are expecting a crowd of at least 50, 000 to go with yesterday’s marvellous attendance of over 80,000 Boxing Day fans. Great to see the Australian crowds showing their appreciation of the New Zealand team. Smith and Head look in good touch and there is no devilment in the pitch in the early part of the session.


By 11.15am Smith had changed his gloves three times, Head nil. I know we have discussed this often but surely changing your gloves every few overs for what “purpose” is not on. It cannot be that the gloves are ringing wet from perspiration. Methinks it is just part of the Smith routine which to me “is not cricket”.  Certainly, takes up time during the day.  It is a wonder that the TV stations don’t call for a “time out” for another add or ask Smith to detest from doing it so play does not go overtime.


Wagner is still making the batsmen duck and dive as he looks for a way of breaking through this solid partnership.  He does when he gets one to lift suddenly to Smith (85) and the ball balloons over the head of Nichols in the gully who reaches high and wide to take a great one-handed catch.   Australia 5/282 and the lion-hearted Wagner does it again.  What a player he has been in this series.  If ever a player has given his all in this series it has been the Viking Warrior Neil Wagner.


Must congratulate the umpires for their fine game so far and a fine series. Nigel Llong and Marais Erasmus have been totally correct with every decision so far as were the umpires in Perth.


Wagner is now trying to bounce Paine out and the Australian captain is counter punching by trying to hit him out of the ground. At the completion of every short ball Paine follows Wagner down the pitch poking at an imaginary dent in the pitch on the bowler’s half. Great foreplay by both.  Wagner must have something against Taswegians as he seemed to take delight in goading Wade in Perth during the first Test.


Full credit to Travis Head for reaching another 50 at the top level he now has to just build a big score so the critics will get off his back forever.  A ton would cement his place for a long time and also help his credentials to be the next Australia skipper.  How’s that Rulebook?


5/336 at lunch Head 57 and Paine an attacking 33. A real captain’s knock by Tim Paine who has been the only batsman prepared to attack the bowlers.


After lunch Head and Paine have taken control completely and both are playing their shots. Paine reaches a delightful 50 from 72 balls to rapturous applause from the appreciative crowd. A very perceptive crowd are the “G”, they know when a person has been put under pressure by all and sundry and this innings has further enhanced Paine as the rightful Australian captain.  The best batting of the innings has come from these two men at the wicket.


Just as a matter of interest I have not seen any glove changes by the batsmen for a long time and this is the heat of the day at the moment. Ho humm!


Half way through day two and the batsmen are playing so comfortably that a wicket seems a long way off.  Australia 5/389, so they added 53 runs in the first hour after lunch a good session for them and well led by the two of the leaders in the team Captain Paine and Head VC.  They have now put on 105 the highest partnership in the innings.


Santner’s flat off spinners are giving the batsmen scoring opportunities and the fast men today have not been as accurate as yesterday with too many balls outside the off to Head who is a prodigious cutter of the ball and outside Paine’s legs as he will hook you if he can.


At last Travis Head changes his gloves!  The score now 5/405, a very fine partnership by the two most maligned players in the team.  Now who’s talkin!


Well certainly nothing much happened in that session as Australia added 95 runs and no wickets were lost.  Head moving slowly towards his century 98 and Paine, the best innings of the team 77.


Australia are now 5/431 and the partnership worth 147 and still going strong.  NZed continued with their tactics which is run reducing but they made no impact on the scoreboard as far as wickets. One can see Australia batting for the remainder of the day and at least the first session tomorrow to put them in an unbeatable position.


An anxious wait for Travis Head at tea-time but he has been composed for nearly a full day’s play and that won’t hurt him. Paine (77) is hit on the pads and a DRS from NZ gives him out. Bitter disappointment for the skipper who would have loved to have embraced Head when the big one occurs. The Viking Warrior now has his third wicket and it was a good ball cutting back at the last minute. On reflection if it had happened just before tea Paine would have played it comfortably.


A wonderful innings from the skipper, full of merit, attack and good strokes.


Starc (1) hits out at Southee, mistimes the shot and is easily taken by Williamson.  Australia obviously now looking for quick runs after Paine’s dismissal and quickly followed by Starc. Australia now 7/435.


A century at last! Head back cuts Southee for four and reaches 103. A patient studious knock that has cemented his place for a few tours. Some superb shots through the off-side and patience personified.  Ten fours from 320 minutes at the crease.


Another DRS. This time against Head – “snicko” – not out! My word, and I keep saying it, Wagner is a real fighter. Head is going for it now and smacks successive fours to end the over.


Great cricket from a fine fielder in Santner who saves a certain four and nearly causes a run out.  The out fielding of the visitors has been superb.  Ross Taylor who has stood at slip for nearly two days is now fielding at deep, deep third man anticipating a ramp shot from either batsman.  The pace of the game has gone up a cog as Australia push for a declaration.


Head goes! Caught by Santner hitting out at Wagner for a great 114. Wasn’t it class when all the New Zealand players went to the batsman as he departed the field offering their congratulations.  The New Zealanders are a class act despite what Brad Haddin and co have said about them in the past. A magnificent, magnanimous gesture.  That is what cricket is all about.  No wonder the ANZACS were so great in the First World War.


Cummins (0) mistimes a shot and Latham catches from Southee’s bowling. Australia now into the one-day stuff and have lost 4/34 since the tea break. All out for 467 when Lyon (1) ramps Southee to Wagner and Pattinson remained 14 not out.  Wagner was easily the standout bowler with 4/83 from 38 overs while Southee 3/105 picked up a couple of late wickets. De Grandhomme with 2/68 was the other wicket taker along with Boult 1/91. The disappointing Santner finished with 0/82.


Great support for the batsmen from the New Zealand contingent as they open their accounts in the opening over of the innings. They have a long way to go but will make a fight of it – no worries.


Lively opening from Starc and Cummins bowling much faster than any of the New Zealanders and it was not surprising when Blundell (15) fiddled at the accurate Cummins for Paine to do the rest.  New Zealand 1/23. Blundell, not surprisingly, had been thrown into the opening position and never looked comfortable against this attack.


The bowlers are pounding the ball down and neither Williamson or Latham look comfortable. Latham has faced 22 balls for 1 run (from the first ball he received) but he is still there.  Pattinson is on and gives them no respite. The big fast bowler is inclined to give runs away but also likely to take a wicket when the batsmen take him on.


Our prediction works, as Williamson (9) after playing a glorious drive for 4 through the off side, goes to hook him and mistimes the speed of the bowler, the ball goes high and wide and Paine (having a great day) sprints around to take a simple catch. A poor shot by the captain and a big disappointment for New Zealand 2/39.


Pattinson is fired up and Taylor (0) is given out by Umpire Erasmus LBW but the DRS goes in favour of the Kiwi, but only just. A lucky escape for the key batsman.


The days attendance of 59,676 has just been posted and yet another response to Test match cricket, the resurgent Australian team and the impeccable New Zealanders.  Spectators today would have enjoyed the day as it moved from slow through to an exciting last session full of action.


At stumps New Zealand 2/44 with Latham on 9 and Taylor on 2.  Pattinson and Cummins 1 wicket each.



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About Bob Utber

At 84 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he has always done since growing up on a small farm at Lang Lang. Talking, watching and writing sport and in recent years writing books. He lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny) and a groodle named 'Chloe on Flinders' and can be found at Deakin 27 every day.


  1. Another very good write up, thanks. Better day’s cricket than yesterday and thankfully the taps in the Robbie Flower bar were back in operation after yesterday’s failure

  2. I think Wagner tactics are terrible for cricket. They are a blot on the game .

    Imagine if Australia played four quicks and Mitch marsh as an all rounder and bowled ths crap all day. It is body line light and in its core is utterly defensive because you cannot score against it.

    Imagine it being bowled in Park Cricket on artificial wickets. Imagine it being bowled at your son.

    The NZ captain is a blot on the game as he allows such a nasty tactic.

    Read the 1934 Wisden where the Editor puts forth all the reasons why Bodyline is abhorrent to all lovers of cricket but he implores the captains simply to not bowl it rather than new Laws being needed to stopi t.

    Wanger and the new Zealand captain are guilty of a much greater crime against the spirit of the game (note cricket is a game) thn Smith/Warner.

    Lastly, people who simply parrot the line that “Wagner is a warrior’. ‘Wagner has great heart’ have not thought about where such tactic will lead and anny me greatly.

    I am so angry about this topic. If all cricket is played this way ricket will die.

  3. Sorry Bob, like Phil I think Wagner’s tactics are terrible for the game. He rarely attacks the stumps, wasting numerous deliveries and his leg side field makes it difficult to score. Incidental Australia gifted the last 4 wickets to the Kiwis going for quick runs.

  4. I might try to find a middle path. While I admire the energy and ‘never give in’ approach of Wagner, I thoroughly dislike the method employed by the Kiwi brains trust – short, wide bowling, negative fields. The really good/great sides over the years gained that status by playing positive, attacking cricket. Paine changed the tone of the game with his batting yesterday by being positive. Head backed him solidly and did his own cause a favour at the same time. The bowlers followed on when it came their turn. I just can’t understand the NZ approach – no Plan B. They do score brownie points for sportsmanship – Wagner checking with Wade after a hit to the helmet, congratulating Head after his dismissal. But if winning is the goal, please employ a positive approach. A bit of cloud around this morning – will the ball move?

  5. I cannot believe that you give Wagner brownie points for checking on Wade after he hit him on about his 40 attempt to hit him.

    If he had inflicted a serious injury on Wade, even feath, would you sayeay a wonderfulf fellow Wagner is because he went to the funeral

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Thoroughly enjoyable day of Test cricket, took my boys, 11 & 9, who were absolutely enthralled.

    While New Zealand’s short pitch tactics have tamed Smith to an extent, the ploy has clearly not worked. The Kiwis percentage of balls that would have hit the stumps was incredibly low and not in playing with their usual strength of consistency, seam and swing. There are rules for intimidatory bowling, either the umpires were happy with what was being served up or were there warnings given?

    Smith putting the pull shot away has limited him. Paine’s innings was a superb captain’s knock, took on the short ball, best innings of the Test so far for mine. Very happy for Travis Head, also a wonderful innings.

    Loved the Kiwi flavour in the crowd, every bit as good as having England, India or Sri Lanka there for atmosphere.

    Wagner is a wonderful competitor, love how he charges in just as much in his 28th over as in his first. But couldn’t help thinking how RT Ponting, GS Blewett and MTG Elliott would have smashed his 130kph short pitched deliveries all over the MCG!

  7. Phil, instead of prosecuting arguments back and forth, we may have to agree to differ. I appreciated Wagner’s gesture in the moment as did Wade in his immediate response. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t like NZ’s overused tactic but neither do I think that Wade has adopted a sensible method to deal with the short ball, thereby inviting more of the same. A scoreless draw between the two combatants, perhaps. Good theatre, if nothing else.

    What I’d be interested to hear from you is how, as an experienced umpire, you would adjudicate the NZ bowling approach. Is it within the laws and/or spirit of the game? If not, when, on what basis, and how would you intervene? (As Australia’s second innings begins, there has been less of the same to this moment. But Wagner has yet to come to the bowling crease.)

  8. Citrus Bob can’t disagree more re Llong re imo taking the game in to his own hands re the non leg byes to
    Smith,ANY attempt to evade the ball is a leg bye just umpire the laws of the game don’t add a slant on it
    I admit I am angry about that has happened in South Africa as well not good enough.Totally agree with you ridiculous time wasting.Head I was delighted to see a fighting dogged ton not just a free flowing blazing,50.
    I love,Wagners competitiveness but Luke nailed it wouldn’t get away with bowling bouncers like that to the 3 he named.Smith big test now as this will be bowled to him consistently now thank you

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