If you had told me that Australia played an entire match where Jason Gillespie faced more balls in a single innings than any other Australian batsman, I would have said Australia might have been in some trouble. But that was obviously not the case with New Zealand being swept aside by 9 wickets again.
As in the first Test, a “ticklish” target (164) was dispatched with consummate ease by Ponting and Langer. In fact, with the weather closing in, the end seemed to come with a twinkling of an eye. No need for a fifth day. Man of the match, Ponting followed his first innings century (105 from 110 balls) with a smashing 82 from 84 balls.
Man of the series, Gilchrist made another assault (60 not out) that only ended when he ran out of partners. Gillie may well have become the first Australian since Jack Fingleton in 1936 to score centuries in four consecutive Test innings. The Kiwis must hate the site of Gillie (more even than South Africa. Or England. Or Pakistan…). In this summer, he has played five Tests against New Zealand, playing just five innings of 126, 50, 121, 162 and 60 not out. That’s 519 runs at 129.75.
McGrath (18 @ 15.72) and Warne (17 @ 22.00) were the stand out bowlers for Australia, with McGrath making it to 499 wickets. He even flew Jane in just in case. The lifestyle of a cricketer has changed in the past fifty years! Thankfully, there were no red boots to be seen on McGrath.
Kasper and Gillespie’s figures of 8 wickets @ 39.87 and 7 wickets @ 45.71 could leave the selectors wondering if there is a place for Brett Lee. Not that I’m calling for the axe but watch this space.
And let’s not let Michael Clarke slip under the radar. He made 38 runs @ 12.66, coming in ahead of only McGrath (0 runs @ 0.00) in the averages. Still, he managed to stay in the all rounder class (by keeping his batting average above his bowling average) taking two wickets at 12.00 apiece.
We now have to wait a few months for the Ashes.
In other arenas, please be aware that Pakistan squared the three Test series with India, following a dramatic win in the third Test. Inzi, playing his 100th Test made 184 but was outshone by Younis Khan who made 267. They shared a partnership of 324, starting with the score at 2-7. Not bad. The drama unfolded on the final day with Pakistan taking 9 wickets after lunch, claiming the last one with just six overs remaining.
And the West Indies embark on a tour of South Africa minus Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle. In a sponsorship fiasco to rival the “Dream Team” saga at the Atlanta Olympics, the West Indies will be without Lara etc owing to conflict in their individual contracts with Cable and Wireless and the new team sponsor Digicel. Lara, who was later invited to join the team by the board, declined pending the selection of others left out for similar reasons. Only in the Caribbean!