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Australia v New Zealand, 3rd Test at Hobart

Electronic Telegraph

27 Nov - 1 Dec 1997

Day 1: Australia held up in hat-trick quest

By Joe Cochrane in Hobart

RAIN ruined the opening day of Australia's third Test against hapless New Zealand at Bellerive here yesterday, with only an hour's play possible.

Australian captain Mark Taylor won the toss for the first time in the series and chose to bat. But he and fellow opener Matthew Elliott had faced only 15 overs up to the first drinks break when the weather intervened.

Aiming to complete a clean sweep after huge victories in Brisbane and Perth, Australia were 39 without loss when play was abandoned for the day at 5pm, with Elliott on 20 and Taylor on 18.

Weather permitting, Australia will set out today to build a sizeable first-innings total to push for victory in this ``dead'' Test.

New Zealand emphasised their shortage of options when they recalled out-of-form Matthew Horne to take over as a makeshift opener after deciding not to risk injured opener Blair Pocock, who has a broken big left toe and will fly home tomorrow.

Day 2 Report

Elliott profits from errors

By a Special Correspondent in Hobart

MATTHEW Elliott posted his third Test hundred while Greg Blewett fell a run short of his own century as Australia put pressure on New Zealand in the third Test here yesterday.

Elliott scored 114 while Blewett was dismissed for 99 for the second time in Tests this year as Australia ground to 273 for five on the second day, after all but an hour of Thursday's opening day was lost to rain.

Elliott had failed to surpass 50 in three innings against New Zealand but he profited from two dropped chances when he was 81 and 85. He combined in a 197-run second-wicket stand with Blewett that threatened to knock New Zealand out of the game.

Blewett became the sixth player and first Australian to be dismissed twice for 99 in Test cricket. He got an inside edge and was bowled by Simon Doull one short of what would have been his fifth Test hundred - a similar ball and shot to the one from Cameron Cuffy that dismissed him for 99 in the fourth Test against the West Indies last January.

Spinner Daniel Vettori was restricted to bowling just two overs after hurting his knee crashing into the fence in the morning session.

Craig McMillan should have had his first Test wicket when Elliott got a leading edge but Chris Harris failed to hold the catch in the covers. McMillan got his man after tea when Bryan Young held a juggling slips catch.

Blewett did not want to talk about his experience, with a team spokesman saying he was too dejected. The others to have twice perished at 99 in a Test are Englishmen Mike Smith and Mike Atherton, Richie Richardson, of the West Indies, New Zealander John Wright and Salim Malik, of Pakistan.

Day 3 Report

Flashing Waugh lightens the gloom

By Peter Roebuck in Hobart

NOT even a handsome innings from Mark Waugh could cheer spectators as they sat in low-slung stands watching rain fall from thick clouds hanging over the ground like a perturbing thought. Bush fires were raging across New South Wales but, further south, nature was showing a more tearful face. Unsurprisingly the locals were miserable. Until the cricketers arrived it had been sunny, they said through gritted teeth.

Nor could Waugh the younger rekindle interest in a match played in a wooded outpost on a sluggish pitch in wretched weather and with a series already decided. Apart from Waugh, the cricket was mostly humdrum as the visitors concentrated on containing their powerful opponents. New Zealand had not much to offer by way of variety once Daniel Vettori, their solitary spinner, had bumped into a boundary board in a manoeuvre unlikely to appeal to older members of the bowlers' union. Only pace men and trudlers remained.

Pundits are supposed to portray cricket as a game of endless fascination. It is our task to find sultanas in a bowl of semolina, meat in thin soup. Here the search was unavailing. Not withstanding Waugh's fluent strokeplay, the match has had little to commend it. Waugh's form has returned since he sensed mortality sniffing around his entrails and he scored all around the wicket, gliding to third man, driving through extra cover and flicking neatly off his toes.

Around him batsmen came and went, losing their wickets as they tried to hasten. Ian Healy and Paul Reiffel were held at short cover as they drove on a pitch demanding due care and attention. Reiffel had impressed again but his back-foot play was not tested. Shane Warne swung beefily before a slightly-restored Vettori ended his interest.

At last the Australian innings ended as Waugh leg glanced faultlessly and Michael Kasprowicz pushed to mid-off. Hardly any time was left to force a result. Already lunch had been taken three times. New Zealand's openers played capably against an attack lacking edge until the rains returned and settled in for a long stay.

Meanwhile the various selectors announced their teams for the forthcoming one-day matches. In their hour of distress New Zealand have sent for Gavin Larsen. They need a bottle of whisky and Larsen can bring only a half pint of shandy.

With the strike postponed, the Australians could choose their strongest team, with Steve Waugh as captain. Further troubles lie ahead. The Board had intended to sue the Players Association's advisers and had temporarily desisted. Notwithstanding the dove-like noises emerging from both sides, the parties remain far apart and mutually suspicious. A strike could still occur. Not that it would have been noticed yesterday. There was not much cricket anyhow.

Day 4 Report

Fleming takes a calculated risk

By a Special Correspondent in Hobart

AN imaginative declaration by New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming offered faint hope of wringing an unexpected result out of the rain-plagued third Test against Australia.

After more than eight hours' play had been lost over the opening three days, Fleming changed the course of the match when he declared the New Zealand innings on 251 for six, 149 runs behind Australia's first innings of 400. The lead had been extended to 163 by the close.

Fleming said he thought a target of around 260 runs from 65 to 70 overs was a realistic chase for the New Zealanders on the final day. The Australians have already clinched the series by winning the first two Tests.

Matthew Horne, who would not have been playing if regular opener Blair Pocock was not injured, scored a maiden Test century after a run of poor form. When he was finally out, lifting a tired-looking drive off Paul Reiffel to Matthew Elliott at mid-on, he had scored 133 in 326 minutes.

New Zealand lost their way from 192 for one, with Steve Waugh taking three cheap wickets.

Day 5

New Zealand's last two block clean sweep

By a Special Correspondent in Hobart

NEW Zealand's last-wicket pair of Simon Doull and Shayne O'Connor survived 64 balls to earn a draw and deprive Australia of a 3-0 clean sweep at Bellerive Oval yesterday.

New Zealand finished on 223 for nine, chasing 288 for victory, as the last pair batted out 38 minutes on a turning pitch. Australian paceman Simon Cook dropped Doull off Shane Warne with 39 balls remaining.

The visitors made a flying start to their run-chase, which started when Australia declared on 138 for two at lunch. Matt Horne (31) and Nathan Astle (40) raced to 72, scoring the first 50 off just 31 balls, before Horne was trapped leg before by medium paceman Paul Reiffel and panic set in.

From 93 for one, New Zealand lost three wickets for two runs in 13 balls, two of them to Warne, who finished with five for 88. Reduced to 152 for six soon after tea, New Zealand recovered to 218 for six thanks to some energetic batting by Adam Parore and Roger Twose.

Then Twose backed up too far and was run out by a Taylor-Steve Waugh combination. He was followed soon after by Parore who fell to a brilliant catch by Matthew Elliott at backward square leg.

It was Australia's eighth consecutive series win under Mark Taylor since he took over from Allan Border in 1994. He has led Australia to series victories over West Indies and England (twice), Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and now New Zealand in 36 Tests.

Australia have drawn only five Tests during this period while losing a one-off Test to India last year in the sub-continent.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming felt the target was steep. ``Whatever the target was we were going to chase,'' he said. ``I thought 260-270 would have been a reasonable target, but then probably we were too optimistic.''

Australia's selectors have omitted five of the Test side at Hobart - Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, Matthew Elliott, Michael Kasprowicz and Simon Cook - from the first four matches of the one-day tournament with South Africa and New Zealand.

Healy is the most surprising omission at wicketkeeper, giving way to the superior batting of Adam Gilchrist after 168 one-day international appearances.

Australia (from): *S R Waugh, M E Waugh, M J Di Venuto, M G Bevan, G S Blewett, R T Ponting, A C Gilchrist, I J Harvey, S K Warne, P R Reiffel, G D McGrath, A J Bichel, A Dale.

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 18:28