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Australia V New Zealand, 2nd Test, Perth

Reports from the Electronic Telegraph

20- 23 November

Day 1 report

McMillan's 54 holds line for New Zealand

By Joseph Cochrane in Perth

CRAIG McMILLAN and Chris Cairns hit half-centuries as New Zealand were all out for 217 on the opening day of the second Test in Perth yesterday.

Australia proceeded to lose captain Mark Taylor in the second over, but Matthew Elliott and Greg Blewett batted out the rest of the evening, with Australia on 32 for one at stumps.

Taylor shouldered arms to a Shayne O'Connor delivery and umpire Darrell Hair had no hesitation in ruling him leg before wicket for two.

New Zealand's batsmen had earlier failed to vindicate the decision of their captain, Stephen Fleming, to bat first after winning the toss.

Despite excellent conditions, they perished largely through some injudicious batting against some persistent line-and-length bowling by the home attack.

McMillan and Cairns were the New Zealand face-savers with a 74-run sixth-wicket stand after the innings had slumped to 87 for five just after lunch.

McMillan's efforts for 54 were particularly praiseworthy. He batted on in only his second Test despite having his right thumb cracked by a bouncer from Mike Kasprowicz. He eventually fell to Kasprowicz, edging an outswinger to Taylor at first slip. Cairns prospered after surviving an early chance, which was dropped by Paul Reiffel, to make 52.

Floodlights were turned on for the first time in Test cricket as New Zealand continued their innings after tea on 161 for six. The International Cricket Conference's playing conditions now permit the use of lighting when available.

AUSTRALIA'S leading cricketers have confirmed their intentions to strike over a wage dispute with the Australian Cricket Board.

The Australian Cricketers' Association, who represent the country's top 120 players, have written to the ACB warning of strike dates aimed at disrupting the international programme.

The players will boycott three one-day internationals involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa between Dec 4 and Dec 9 and a game between Australia and Australia A on Dec 14.

All the matches would attract huge crowds and generate vast profits for the ACB. Chief executive, Mal Speed, said: ``It's very grim news at a time when we were seeking to keep the lines of communication open.''

The board have rejected a revised pay claim by the ACA, including a guaranteed players' fund for three years from July 1, 1998.

Day 2 Report Electronic Telegraph

Waugh hits roof with huge six as N Zealand suffer

By Nelson Clare in Perth

MARK WAUGH hit one of the biggest sixes in Test cricket yesterday, leaving the ball on the roof of a five-tier stand more than 130 yards away from the wicket. Rodney Marsh, the former Australian wicketkeeper, described it as ``the biggest six I've seen'', a view shared by West Indies manager Clive Lloyd, who saw the game on television.

Waugh's massive blow came as he and his brother Steve set about the New Zealand attack, putting on a partnership of 153 as Australia built a first-innings lead on the second day of the second Test here.

After early difficulties, when they lost two wickets after a lengthy rain delay, Australia were in a commanding position at stumps, 235 for four in reply to 217.

Steve Waugh was unbeaten with 79, having seen Mark dismissed for 86 shortly before the close of play. Mark Waugh hit 12 fours and that six - a shot that will go down in the game's folklore.

The unfortunate Daniel Vettori, the left-arm spinner regarded as New Zealand's best prospect for the future, watched Waugh come down the wicket to send a perfectly timed drive sailing back over his head. It arced high on to the top of the five-tier Lillee-Marsh Stand, landing with a clunk more than 130 yards away from the crease. It is the first time a ball has travelled as far as the roof of the 10-year-old stand.

The ball, 56 overs old, could not be retrieved, and umpires Darrell Hair and George Sharp spent several minutes trying to find one with equal wear.

Vettori, 19, a student who became New Zealand's youngest Test debutant against England last winter, soon made his mark with the dismissal of Nasser Hussain. He will now be remembered more for being the victim of Waugh's feat.

The six was all the more remarkable given that both brothers had started uncertainly, and that Mark Waugh needed a good score to keep his place. Their century partnership was their third in Tests. The Waughs, coming together at 71 for three, put on 50 in 43 minutes, 100 in 95 minutes and 150 in 151 minutes, swinging the balance of the game.

Steve Waugh, on 40, was lucky to be dropped by the New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, at first slip off Geoff Allott.

Rain had caused a delay of four hours before play started with Australia 32 for one. Greg Blewett fell to Shayne O'Connor, then the energetic Chris Cairns had opener Matthew Elliott caught by O'Connor.

Big hitting

In 1899 A E Trott hit a ball over the present pavilion at Lord's, the only person to have achieved this feat.

In the 1880s the 16-stone G J Bonner, playing for New South Wales at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, hit a ball out of the ground, a distance of more than 160 yards. On another occasion, at the MCG, he hit a ball through the face of the pavilion clock.

C H Lloyd, playing for Lancashire against Surrey at the Oval in 1975, hit a ball more than 120 yards over midwicket into Harleyford Road.

Day 3 report, Electronic Telegraph

Healy weighs in as Australia confound their critics

By Peter Roebuck in Perth

SOMETIMES it takes conflict to sharpen a team. These Australians are supposed to be distracted. Apparently they are greedy and selfish. Far from being exhausted by all the statements and discussions and headlines, the Australians have been stirred into action. They have played some commanding cricket here and appear set to overwhelm struggling opponents.

Batting with power and sometimes panache, they rattled along at a rare old rate to secure a lead of 244 runs before taking early wickets against a New Zealand team hanging on as best they could. Resuming at 235 for four, the Australians soon lost a wicket as Steve Waugh was beaten by an inswinger from Shayne O'Connor. After a crisp start Ricky Ponting swiftly followed, edging to slip after his opponents had tested his patience.

Alas it was to be New Zealand's only encouraging hour. Ian Healy and Paul Reiffel took charge. Reiffel is quite a batsman these days, with a wide range of shots and a keen eye. He cut, pulled and drove heartily as the pair hurried along at a run a minute. Meanwhile his partner collected steadily and upon reaching 71 passed Rod Marsh's record as the highest-scoring Australian wicketkeeper.

At last Reiffel fell, caught at slip. Shane Warne then set about showing he could hit as impressively as Mark Waugh, whose earlier blow had landed upon the roof of the Lillee-Marsh stand, which is roughly akin to hitting from the Oval into Big Ben. After scoring 39 in 25 balls, Warne was held at mid-off, whereupon the innings spluttered to its conclusion.

New Zealand were in dreadful trouble before their innings began. Neither Blair Pocock (broken toe) nor Craig McMillan (broken thumb) could bat properly. Plainly inconvenienced, Pocock was caught at short leg. But they did not intend to go down easily and it took a bad mistake from Adam Parore and an unerring throw from Matthew Elliott to run out Bryan Young and break the partnership.

It has been a considerable performance from the Australians. Even without Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie their bowling has been accurate and their fieldsmen have caught mosquitoes.

Day 4 Report - Electronic Telegraph

Cook's retort spells end for New Zealand

By Nelson Clare in Perth

A DEVASTATING spell by debutant Simon Cook helped Australia to complete an overwhelming victory over New Zealand by an innings and 70 runs yesterday.

The New South Wales paceman, exploiting the cracks in a wearing pitch, snapped up five for 20 off 32 balls as New Zealand were bowled out for 174, though they will feel that the match was effectively lost when they were dismissed for 217 on the opening day after having first use of a then-excellent surface.

Australia responded with a formidable total of 461 and now have an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after taking the first Test in Brisbane by 186 runs.

Cook, 25, a surprise replacement for the injured Glenn McGrath, finished with five for 39 in the second innings and match figures of seven for 75 for the match as Australia won their eighth series in a row, confirming their status as the world's best Test side.

Australian captain Mark Taylor was enthusiastic about Cook's contribution to victory, which came with more than four sessions to spare, but he warned that Australia would face a more severe challenge in the three-Test series against South Africa, starting in Melbourne on Dec 26.

``The series over there earlier this year was tough enough but this will be even tougher,'' he said. ``I know they're very keen to beat us so I'm expecting tougher opposition.''

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was bitterly disappointed with his team's second successive Test loss - the third and final Test begins in Hobart on Thursday - on a tour of unbroken misery.

``All the way through we've under-achieved, and that's an alarming aspect,'' he said. ``There has got to be some soul-searching. At the moment it's hard to see light at the end of the tunnel.''

Resuming on the fourth day on 69 for three, New Zealand lost their last seven wickets in only 145 minutes for the addition of 105 runs.

Adam Parore extended his overnight 42 to 63, an innings courageously forged in almost three hours with 10 fours, but received little help from his team-mates.

Australia's cricketers have lifted the threat of going on strike in the next few weeks. The players were targeting four day-night games, including internationals involving South Africa and New Zealand in early December, as their bitter dispute over pay and conditions with the Australian Cricket Board continues.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 18:29