Australia v New Zealand – Second Test: Day 1 MCG

Not surprisingly Kane Willamson won the toss and sent Australia in to bat. There has been more conjecture about THIS wicket than Boris’s attempt to save Britain. Williamson was going to be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. Having Trent Boult back in the team will certainly be a plus.


How about that!  BBB on ball 3 Burns Bowled Boult first ball. What a start for the mob in the Olympic stand who got up in ‘ their thousands to do the haka and acclaim a beautiful ball from Trent Boult.  Burns does fail as an opener when he plays outside the ball and even minimal swing gets him in trouble.  His early demise will certainly give some “feed for the chooks”.


Great decision by Williamson to bowl as both Boult and Southee are moving the ball appreciatively and let’s face it, they certainly are a very complementary couple of bowlers.  Both batsmen (Warner and Labuschagne) are having their problems but have also struck beautiful fours as well.  This looks a good pitch for bowling and the batsmen will need to be on their mettle.


A few queries about “why no welcome to country?”.  The truth is there was a welcome from the MC because Aunty Joy came down sick and had to apologise for her absence.


Already the New Zealand fielding is up to the high standards they set in Perth exemplified by a great save by Williamson to thwart a four from Warner. Every run saved is a run gained.


‘The Great Man” (De Grandhomme) takes over from Boult and it will be an interesting period as he has everything in his favour for his 120kph Wobblies. Labuschagne has faced 34 balls for two scoring shots (both fours). The patience of this man.  Mind you the bowling has been excellent and not giving him many chances to get into his rhythm.


A magnificent day now with the cloud cover gone and the crowd are still coming in. De Grandhomme’s economy is lost when Warner, looking very confident now takes 9 from his fifth over.  A few little foibles starting to occur but the two batsmen handle them with skill. Fine running between the wickets as the batsmen have the speed to turn twos into threes.


Warner (41) gets a good one from the irrepressible Wagner and Southee juggles it at second slip.  A well-deserved wicket for the visitors as they have been a tad unlucky this morning.


We now have Tweedledum and Tweedledee at the wicket. Not sure which one is the more eccentric Smith or Labuschagne. We know the later likes a chat but he seems to be giving Smith too much information for a player with limited Test knowledge. Smith is getting a bit of a work over from Wagner who has three fielders close in on the leg.


At lunch Australia are 2/67. An interesting morning’s play with honours about even with perhaps NZ slightly in front, another wicket would have been handy for them.


Labuschagne should have been run out just after lunch but a poor throw saw him make it back.


A wonderful crowd now of around about 73,500 (1.45pm) and they are still coming in. So already more than Perth and Brisbane combined for whole Test. There is no way that Cricket Australia will move the Boxing Day Test from Melbourne in the near future. Talk about parochial garbage. This is one Test match that is sacrosanct.


The Mexican Wave has started – yes, the cricket is a bit slow at the present time. Labuschagne nearly run out again and I thought these two were joined at the hip!


Neil Wagner wins some fans when he returns the perennial beach-ball to the crowd instead of handing it to the advancing security man. There is a bit of Australiana about the South African born New Zealander.


Santner is on and the Tweedles attack both hitting sixes from him in the one over. Santner has never really ever been a threat to the Australian batsmen. In this series he has taken 1 wicket for many, many runs.  Australia are getting on top now at 2/117.


Labuschagne reaches another 50 (4 fours and 1 six) but this was not one of his best as far as shot making went but for G & D it was a winner. He has faced 132 balls in what has been a tough fight against a fine fast attack. A great battle all-round. His battling innings comes to an unusual end when on 63 he virtually gloves one on to his wicket from De Grandhomme. Australia 3/141. New Zealand needed that wicket badly.


As expected, when Wade arrives Wagner is back on the scene but Wade survives to tea with Smith (41) and Australia 3/155.  A much better scoring rate for the Australians, 1/88 and the two teams shared the Session.


A new innovation this year is “The Boundary Social” area – enough said. Depriving much needed seating for the run-in-the-mill supporters for the benefit of the drinkers.


SPD Smith is starting to look like he has refound his Ashes form and is moving into position very quickly to hit the ball square from outside the off stump. NZ will need to capture his wicket soon or else a big score is looming. Notice today that he has virtually refused to play the hook shot that has caused his downfall this summer. Smith also passes Greg Chappell in the top list of Australian run scorers. Wade also has settled in well after the initial onslaught from Wagner and their partnership has realised over 60 at this stage. De Grandhomme nearly has Wade (27) but the ball just falls short of first slip.


Wagner returns and Wade slashes at him, over the slips for four and then Wade retaliates by punching him beautifully through the covers. The battle continues. Probably has been the highlight of the series the contest between these two. De Grandhomme comes to the fore and gets Wade (38) caught behind attempting an off-drive.  Australia 4/216.


The cricket has had a familiar ring about it and has been reminiscence of the game played in Perth. Both sides playing tough uncompromising cricket but giving little away to their opponents.  Good hard Test cricket that has kept the big crowd interested but not totally enthralled.


At 4/228 New Zealand take the new ball and the taking of wickets becomes even more important to them. Boult’s first over does not indicate much movement in the ball. Southee’s field is all about containment but it does not with Head playing a beautiful straight drive for four.


The new ball has contained the batsmen in the dying stages of the day but Smith and Head are playing wisely and not attempting to score from any ball wide of the stumps.  Survival until tomorrow is paramount in their thinking.  Southee and Boult continue to bowl well to no avail.


It’s not hot but the patrons on the top level of the Olympic Stand are making sure that fellow patrons below get the full brunt of the ice they are cascading below. “Cool” is not in my vernacular but has certainly become part of the day.  The New Zealand sector are certainly enjoying their day at the “G”.


Well that is stumps for day one of the Boxing Day Test with Australia holding the upper hand after being sent into bat by NZ. The early breakthrough by the Kiwis was thwarted by all the latter batsmen for Australia who were consistent with their runs even though they did not take total control of the day.


At stumps Australia 4/257   Smith 77 and Head 25. De Grandhomme 2 wickets and Boult and Wagner one apiece.


The wicket?  Not as bad as many expected and did not show any sign of deterioration and should continue to play well for at least the next two days.



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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. A good summary, CB. I watched it all on tv about 1km away. Will you please comment on ‘the vibe’ of the MCG as compared to all three earlier Test venues? Seemed like there were a lot of Kiwis there. (I’m attending Day 2 and will proffer an opinion in due course.)

    Aussies with their noses in front but not by much. A quick wicket or two in the morning will rebalance the scales. Can Head take this opportunity to cement his place? He plays some beautiful shots but one feels he’s just one intemperate slash away from an inglorious exit. I’m thinking positive things for him.

    NZ strategy and tactics just a tad too defensive for my liking. Is ‘the long game’ their only plan? I’m possibly less optimistic about the wicket – not much life there late for the second new ball. Perhaps a good toss to lose.

    Nevertheless, a day of good, gritty Test cricket.

  2. I thought that Wade’s 30 odd could mean the end of his Test career. He played and missed continually outside the off stump. There was an obvious plan to get him to ‘nibble’ and he fell for continually. He has no mental strength.

    It was one of the worse innings I have seen from an Australia number 5

  3. Lost: Bay 13 at the MCG. Last seen being marched out the door by the PC Police squad after accusations that it was overly enjoying itself. Concerns are raised as it needs constant hydration. Last seen dressed in a singlet, shorts and thongs. Any information most welcome.

  4. NZ tactics way to defensive resulting generally a dreary day’s play. Agree with Phil in relation to Wade. Carey as a batsman would be way better value. Hopefully Head will show us just what he is made of.

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