MCG Test, Australia v India – Day One: Captain’s Knocks Both Sides Of The Tasman

After a Christmas Day of travelling for lunch then back home for some hard fought cricket on my hand-crafted pitch at home before a late dinner, I was looking forward to a day on the couch watching some quality Test cricket from the Aussie and Indian teams. While Boxing Day was indeed spent on the couch watching quality Test cricket, much of the time a remarkable innings across the ditch captured our attention.

While my young sons and nephews are up horribly early making noise, I manage to get some extra sleep in before the 9AM start (AEDT time) in the New Zealand v Sri Lanka 1st Test in Christchurch. Sri Lanka send the Blackcaps in on a green looking pitch. Tom Latham and Hamish Rutherford, both sons of former Kiwi Test players, get the home team of to a solid start in front of a sold out crowd at Hagley Oval in the venue’s first ever day of Test cricket (the original Christchurch Test venue, Lancaster Park, was virtually destroyed in the 2011 earthquake).

We switch over for the toss at the ‘G. WM Lawry presents JA Burns with his Baggy Green. The 441st player to receive one. SPD Smith wins the toss and bats. Hoping to see DA Warner smash the Indians around the park early on. He nicks one to third slip before he and the team have scored. 1-0.

Over the Tasman Rutherford, Latham and Taylor have been dismissed. 3-88 when Ross Taylor is run out. We switch back to Melbourne. Rogers and Watson cautiously compiling runs. Rogers looking to gain in confidence and fluency the longer he stays there. The Indian fielding is sloppy. As is the Sri Lankan fielding when we switch back. Kane Williamson and especially Brendon McCullum  are scoring freely. Both should be lock-ins for the ICC Test team of the year. 21 year-old debutante off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal  is copping a hiding from McCullum. The Galle-born tweaker lands the ball well but has no answer to the Blackcap skipper’s onslaught.

We turn back in time to see Rogers and Watto register half centuries. One false shot and Rogers is out for a third consecutive fifty. And looks filthy with himself as he trudges off. Watto is out shortly after for 52. We needed him to go on with it. As skipper Smith and S.Marsh slowly rebuild, McCullum is smashing Sri Lanka to all parts of Test cricket’s newest venue. The Kiwi captain makes the fastest century in New Zealand Test history (off 74 balls) and then just continues on. It’s a shock and disappointment when he holes out to long off for 195 off just 134 balls. Double century records beckoned but those watching at the venue and on TV will long remember his innings that included 11 sixes. In the process McCullum passed 1000 Test runs for 2014, a year that has also produced knocks of 302 (first Kiwi to make a triple ton), 224 and 202. Like his opposing skipper in this match, Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews, captaincy has brought out the very best in McCullum’s batting.

Australia reach their 150 off 314 balls in comparison to McCullum’s 150 off 103 balls. Marsh battles to 32 for Australia before being frustrated into a false shot. Caught behind. Joe Burns gets a huge reception from nearly 70,000 at the ‘G and plays some nice shots before under-edging an attempted pull shot and also being caught behind for 13. Haddin joins Smith and like almost every other Australian batsman is greeted with a bouncer.

New Zealand finish the opening day on 7-429. Haddin looks very uncertain against the short ball but survives until stumps. Smith looks almost undismissable on his way to an unbeaten 72. At 5-259, the game is very evenly poised. Looked like hard work to get in on this pitch but some rewards once batsmen had been there awhile. Interesting to see if this changes over the course of five days.

The return of WM Lawry to the Channel 9 commentary team was a blessing. Great to hear his voice again. But I’d had more than enough of his co-commentators by the end of the day that the radio, on the ABC, was required. The Kiwi TV commentators are light years ahead of ours. And wasn’t digital TV supposed to enhance our viewing experience? The Channel 9 feed to my country Victorian in ‘standard definition’ regularly pixalated while it was a pleasure to watch the Test in Christchurch in uninterrupted High-Definition on Fox Sports. Looking forward to watching clear vision of Day two from inside the ‘G!

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. John Butler says

    A grand day to have Foxtel at your disposal Luke.

    Given the controversy that greeted his ascendancy to captaincy, McCullum has had an extraordinary year.

    Enjoy the day!

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Luke ( who says blokes can’t do 2 things at once ) great summary . It is probably only crickets nuts like us who realise how good , McCullum , Williamson and this kiwi side is they are a huge chance in the upcoming world cup

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Luke

    Did you rack up a score on your home pitch?

  4. Jeepers Luke.
    That’s some sort of perfect day.
    Any advice on the new ground at Christchurch?
    Does it also host tiddlywinks?
    B McCullum dynamite.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    John, didn’t think McCullum was suited to captaincy. What a choice it’s been.

    Agreed Malcolm, the Kiwis are a huge chance in the World Cup. Have they ever had a better group of young players?

    Swish- managed to spend a bit of time at the crease on Xmas day.

    ER- Hagley Park has always been a cricket ground, beautiful surrounds, next to a park and golf course and not far from the CBD. Not sure about it’s hosting of tiddlywinks!

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