New Zealand has won a thriller in Hobart and levelled the series 1-1, winning its first Test match against Australia for 18 years, and the first in Australia for 26 years. One has to feel for poor old Dan Vettori who has played against Australia for all his life without so much as a single win and he missed the big event. No disrespect intended to Vettori but one wonders whether his late withdrawal was a blessing in disguise. I don’t think it hurt the Kiwis to have the extra seamer on that wicket.
Many wrote-off New Zealand before this match, including myself but we were short-sighted. Before the series started, many were saying it was going to be very competitive, so after a stumble in the first Test, it should not have been a surprise to see New Zealand bounce back. It is common in the modern era for visiting teams to struggle in the first Test of a series simply because they have not had time to acclimatise. I’m not talking about getting over jetlag but getting used to local conditions.
The match had a thrilling conclusion, as have many Tests in the past few months. This one even had the DRS in play, adding to the drama. New Zealand had actually won the match for a few minutes when Lyon was given out lbw. This was referred and overturned, leaving New Zealand the task of taking the final wicket again. They did that with seven runs to spare and got to have that winning feeling twice in the one afternoon.
I’m not going to have a rant about the woeful Aussies because that would detract from an excellent Test match and a good effort by the Kiwis. There is no doubt that they have serious troubles in the batting department and their colossal batting collapses are noteworthy. To illustrate the point, they have been dismissed for less than 100 several times in the past 12 months and in this match, they were 7-75 in the first innings and lost 7-40 to lose the match in the second.
Whatever the case, it is heart-warming to see Test cricket providing great finishes on a regular basis. I hope that this can help to keep the shorter forms of the game at bay. It is interesting to note that even though some of these matches may not have been of the highest standard from a skill perspective – some of the batting has been appalling – it does not seem to detract from the excitement. Some might even say that the shorter forms of the game are contributing to the poor batting in eroding the patience of the batsmen and their ability to play properly on a pitch offering the bowlers some assistance. Ironically, countering that argument, we had David Warner who was pigeon-holed as a T20 specialist until five minutes ago. In just his second Test, he stood tall above all other batsmen, scoring a century, carrying the bat and almost winning the match for his side. Without Warner, Australia could have been out for under 100 yet again!\
And now for some stats on those ones that “got away” for Australia. I don’t really know if you can derive anything meaningful from these but they make interesting reading. There have been just nine matches in Test cricket history decided with a margin of less then ten runs. Three of those were over 100 years ago and all won by Australia. Five of the remaining six have been lost by Australia in the past thirty years (against four different nations).
Coming from the other perspective, when trying the close out a match with the ball in hand, Australia has failed by just one wicket three times since 1994. If only DRS was in place just over a year ago when India prevailed by one wicket in Mohali.
I hate to indulge in sounding my own trumpet but I did tell you to “Brace yourselves for Bracewell”. I have to admit that I said it more because it was a good headline than anything else but nonetheless, I was right. Bracewell now has three Tests under his belt and has snatched victory from defeat for his side in two of those matches. That he was not awarded man-of-the-match was unfortunate. It is true that Warner’s efforts were worthy but when one bowler routes the opposition and wins that match for his team, he is clearly the motm.
Can someone tell me, is it true that Channel 9 viewers are deciding the motm? I seemed to glean that during the 1st Test. If it is true, it is an utter disgrace that CA must stop immediately. While it might be OK in X-factor and Australian Idol, letting the Australian public decide motm in Test matches is unacceptable. When is a visitor ever going to get the award? Not that it means much, but If you are going to have it, you might as well do it properly.