New Zealand v Australia: First Test, Day 3 – Happy Alf Valentine’s Day

My word Alf Valentine was a very good left arm orthodox spinner for the West Indies in the fifties and early sixties. He took five wickets before lunch in his first ever test match against England. He was the first bowler to take eight wickets 9the first eight) in an innings on debut.

Part of the duo of Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine as the calypso song of the day said:-

“Ram called Hassett a rabbit,

Indies boy he regret dat,

Hassett he scored a century,

Miller followed very quickly,

Aye,aye,aye,

West Indies bowlers’ very fine,

Ramadhin and Valentine.”

Recall Johnny Moyes saying at the drawn Adelaide Test in 1961 ‘Look at dear old Val sweeping the pitch with his cap”. Such was the love that commentators had for Valentine and his team mates. “Val” was like a bespeckled schoolmaster with a great sense of humour who could not bat to save himself.

At the time Valentine was helping Lindsay Kline and Ken Mackay waste time as they hung on during the memorable last day.

Valentine played 36 tests and took 139 wickets at 30.3.

Ah, memories.

Adam DGB Voges should enjoy Valentine’s Day very well and even Peter Siddle is keen to get amongst the runs today.

Siddle did not have a happy start to the day when he got a couple of rippers from Trent Boult. One on the body and one of the helmet. He’s from Moe so it would not have troubled him for long.

Southee and Boult are throwing everything at the batsmen but the pitch looks very docile and there will be lots of runs out there.

Bracewell tempts Siddle (49) and he holes out to Anderson. Australia 7/494. SIDS was looking forward to another fifty this morning.

Australia is intent on pushing the run rate and Hazlewood’s first two scoring shots are both fours.

Have not mentioned it before bout the crowds here at The Basin are a very appreciative lot. One can hardly hear a pin drop during play. The only noise comes from when they roll back the sheets of the sight screens (very quaint). Also noticed that there are no police in attendance and there hasn’t been for the three days play. That says something in itself.

Hazlewood (8) becomes Bracewell’s second victim when he holes out to a good catch by Southee 8/505. Like most cricketers today at the top level Southee is a very good fieldsman.

Voges is nearing another milestone and the crowd wait expectantly. His batting heroics have been Bradmanesque to say the least in recent times. Certainly can’t take that away from him.

As he did when he was nearing 100 he took to Craig to bring up his 200 of 331 balls. A gift from Brendon McCullum.

Anderson takes a great caught and bowled to dismiss Lyon (3). It was a brilliant catch as the ball came back to him low and hard. 9/532

Voges hit out and with Bird hanging on they added 30 for the final wicket. Voges finally went for an epic 239 when he hit one straight back to Craig who took an easy catch. All out for 562 and giving the visitors a lead of 379.

The 5 main bowlers all took 2 wickets each with Boult and Southee standing out in an ordinary attack.

Once again the New Zealanders showed splendid sportsmanship as they all ran to Adam Voges to congratulate him on his fine knock. Something all other nations could observe.

Lunch time sees spectators being allowed on the ground with the centre area roped off. Yet another fine gesture from the people here in wellington. No wonder spectators feel part of the scene at all times.

The wicket is very docile and Hazlewood and Bird find nothing in the pitch. Siddle replaces Bird and goes for three fours in a row Guptill is looking very good and the Black caps are trying to whittle the deficit down as quickly as possible.

No thoughts of playing negative under the McCullum regime.

Both Guptill and Latham are in good form and helped by some short bowling particularly from Siddle and Marsh. Lost count of the number of pull shots they have played.

After his duck Marsh needs wickets in this innings if he wishes to consolidate his possie in the team. We hear Watson is injured again so no worries there.

Bouquets to the ground management public address people. The music they are playing seems to resonate with the crowd in many ways ranging from The Beatles, Bill Joel and even Glenn Campbell. There are no ghetto blasters breaking your ear drums as you try to speak to the person next door to you. All leads to a very pleasant experience.

At drinks New Zealand are 0/64 of 14 overs with both batsmen going head to head. Anything short they go bang. Not your windy woof as in the other forms. Its great cricket from a spectator’s point of view and a pleasure to see the stroke play of both batsmen.

Guptill is given a chance by Nevill his first mistake since assuming the gloves in June last year. However it does not make any significant differences as Guptill on 45 hits out and is well taken by Mitch Marsh running around in circles. New Zealand 1/81.

Latham and Williamson consolidate and although the scoring has slowed down since the dismissal of Guptill. The batsmen look in control. Latham in particular has really consolidated his game in this innings.

Spent part of the afternoon sitting with Martin Guptill’s dad, mums of Trent Boult and Corey Anderson and Trent’s aunty. Interesting to hear their personal comments about watching their family members playing at the top level of cricket.

In particular I asked about how they felt when their sons where either batting or opening the bowling. They accepted the fact that they had no control of what happens on the field but certainly felt extreme disappointment if their progeny failed. Lovely people with no tickets on themselves and quite willing to talk about the nuances of being the parent (or aunty) of an elite sportsperson.

Hazlewood‘s third spell is far more promising and he tempts Williamson (22) to tickle one through to Nevill. NZ 2/131. I’d come a long way to see Williamson after watching him in Australia but his 40 runs from two digs was not what I was wanting to see.

Latham and Nicholls are playing safe as if to say “you will have to ply me out”. They look very comfortable.

Done it again!

Latham plays a terrible shot of Lyon and is easily taken by Khawaja. His 63 was full of merit and defiance but he will be kicking himself for showing such an indiscretion. Terrible shot indeed 3/157.

Brendon McCullum enters his favourite ground for the last time to a rousing reception from the crowd that remains.

I really don’t think we Australians really appreciate what this man has done for his team since taking over the captaincy. One only has to talk to the parents of the younger players in the NZ team to hear the respect and love that the playing families have for him let alone his influence on their sons.

Smith turns to Hazlewood at every opportunity such has been the improvement of the young quick since the absence of Mitchells Starc and Johnson.

Smith makes the changes again and brings back Marsh. He does the damage and traps McCullum (10) playing back. New Zealand 4/178 with Nicholls on 31 playing a back-to-the-wall innings for his team.

Its stumps and any chance New Zealand had of saving the game certainly ended with the dismissal of the captain.

To the credit of the Australians they never faulted with their plan and four wickets was a pretty good return on a flat track.

On the other hand new Zealand will rue the day. Latham and Guptill caused their own downfall while Williamson and McCullum were also victims of poor shot selection.

About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, 'Citrus Bob' Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?! He lives in Mildura with his wife and 'furry kids'; a labradoodle "Freddy Flintoff" and a groodle named "Chloe on Flinders".

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