3rd Orange Test: Australia v New Zealand at Perth, 30 Nov - 4 Dec 2001|
Australia 1st innings:
New Zealand 1st innings:
AUSTRALIANS COME TO BE SEEN AND CONQUERED AT THE WACAAustralia's cricketers came to the WACA Ground in Perth anticipating early wickets, saw a few deliveries promptly beat the bat, yet left it conquered by a phenomenal partnership between two cool, calculating and experienced New Zealand right handers on the second day of the Second Test today.
Just one loss away from potentially handing over their billing as cricket's top Test team, the Australians were put to the sword by an extraordinary exhibition of brow-beating authority from Nathan Astle (156*) and Adam Parore (110). They had snaffled five wickets in less than two hours in a dramatic closing session yesterday, but the home team's bowlers went wicketless for all of five hours today as the Test was transformed from an evenly-tilted game overnight to one blessed by New Zealand dominance.
By stumps, the Australians were at 2/75 in response to a massive total of 9/534 - a position that now leaves them potentially exposed to surrendering their number one status on the International Cricket Council Test Championship table to South Africa.
The New Zealanders have been followed across the land by suggestions that the 0-0 series scoreline that they brought into this match had been based on considerable luck with poor weather. But they set about making all of their own luck today, with an incredible partnership that left statisticians buried underneath a quire of shredded pages from the record books.
At the day's outset, the Black Caps' score was 7/293. At lunch, it was 7/363. At tea, it was 7/467. And, when captain Stephen Fleming played executioner to mercifully terminate the torment of the Australian fieldsmen an hour after tea, it had swelled to a monumental 9/534.
At the core of it all was the astonishing liaison of 263 runs between Astle and Parore that left theirs as the second-highest eighth wicket partnership in the history of Test cricket. Duly, it was also New Zealand's best-ever stand against Australia for any wicket, and it also became the country's new high watermark for partnerships for the eighth wicket against all opponents.
Old marks, not to mention the bowling figures, were being re-arranged about as quickly as many of Astle's cover drives and cuts - and Parore's pulls, slog-sweeps and glances - were racing into and over the boundary ropes.
The approach had been one of unstinting patience initially, and Jason Gillespie (3/112) put more than one ball past the outside edge of the bat.
But caution quickly gave way to command after the pair had weathered the sustained 13 over burst from Gillespie and Glenn McGrath (1/72) as play began.
Sagacious defence was mixed with daring attack as Australia found itself heading increasingly toward desperation point. Most of its bowlers tried changing the angle of their line, consistently toying with the idea of going around the wicket. Their field settings were persistently rotated too. And then, half an hour before tea, captain Steve Waugh resorted to the prospect of turning to the part-time bowling options of Damien Martyn (0/44) and Mark Waugh (0/26).
But, until the moment that Parore eventually fell to a top edged hook at Brett Lee (4/125), the batting was simply too good.
A majestically off driven boundary from Astle off McGrath in mid-afternoon, and a belligerent Parore pull to the square leg boundary from Shane Warne (1/135) after tea, carved further niches in history for the Kiwis. The strokes defined the innings as the first in their nation's history that had yielded four individual centuries - even the feat of three or more batsmen reaching the landmark in the same innings having occurred only twice previously.
The total itself was the fifth best plundered from an Australian attack in a period that stretches all the way back to 1992-93.
No doubt shattered by the whole experience, Matthew Hayden (0) was rapidly squared up by Shane Bond (1/21) and edged a low catch to gully as the reply began. Even more trouble arrived when an aggressive Ricky Ponting (31) lost concentration to outside edge a drive at Chris Martin (1/21).
Admittedly, the New Zealanders' mammoth score was amassed on a pitch that continues to offer little assistance to the bowlers. And the fact that a number of their strokes enjoyed an unimpeded passage to the boundary owed a considerable deal to a blindingly fast outfield.
The tourists' achievements with the bat will therefore be better set in context the further their opponent's innings unfolds.
Whatever comes, whatever is seen over the next three days, though, this is a day which will forever command a high place amid New Zealand cricketing folklore. Of that, there is no doubt.
After a late flurry of wickets yesterday, the Black Caps urgently needed a fortifying partnership when play resumed today. They could not have received one any better tailored to the situation than that provided by the two right handers.
It has been one to remember for a number of reasons; thankfully, the record books, at the very least, are already set to afford it such an honour. By the time that the liaison swelled beyond the mark of 88, it became New Zealand's all-time best for the eight wicket against Australia, surpassing the previous best, added by Mark Greatbatch and Martin Snedden at the same ground 12 years ago.
And, then only a few powerful Astle cover drives and deft Parore glances later, the pair achieved the feat of nudging the 137-run stand shared by Dion Nash and Daniel Vettori against India in Wellington in 1998-99 from its niche as New Zealand's best-ever eight wicket stand against all countries.
The majestically off driven boundary from Glenn McGrath (1/66) that delivered Astle his seventh Test century - and a first against Australia - in mid-afternoon also carved another nice slice of history for the Kiwis. It made this innings only the third in their nation's history that has yielded three or more individual centuries for their players - the two previous exemplars having each arrived against England, once in 1973 and then again in 1983-84.
If the confident Parore were to join the march toward three figures too, it would be the first time in history that four New Zealanders have ever done so in the one innings.
There has been the occasional nervous moment - Astle reserved his for the appropriate time, miscuing a hook and then lofting an on drive just short of Justin Langer from successive McGrath deliveries in the 90s. Shortly afterwards, Parore was dropped - though in the form of a very tough, low chance to Mark Waugh at slip off Shane Warne (1/112) - on 70.
But such close shaves have been completely outweighed by a tantalising mixture of attack and defence.
Australia, all the while, was finding itself heading increasingly toward desperation point. Most of their bowlers tried changing the angle of their line, consistently toying with the idea of going around the wicket. Their field settings were persistently rotated too. And then, half an hour before tea, captain Steve Waugh was reduced to the prospect of again turning to the part-time bowling options of Mark Waugh (0/26) and Damien Martyn (0/15).
Uncharacteristically unimpressive bowling figures greeted almost all of the bowlers on the scoreboard by the time that a merciful end to the session was finally called for them. The similarly unfamiliar experience of having to fight their way back into a Test match, throughout which they have been consistently dominated to date, also now confronts them.
There have only been eight totals higher than this one plundered from Australia's bowlers in a period that stretches all the way back to 1992-93.
In the main, it has been an undemonstrative two hours of batting from the New Zealanders - but just what the doctor ordered after the calamitous closing session yesterday which cost them five of their wickets in quick succession.
Nathan Astle (62*) and Adam Parore (41*) were forced to weather some more rip-roaring pace bowling from the Australians as play resumed in overcast conditions, but held their nerve to tick the scoreboard over - albeit slowly - and avert any more breaches of their team's defences.
Astle scored in fits and starts, playing and missing more than once early against the searing pace of Jason Gillespie (3/90). But he knuckled down well, began to move his feet with assurance and quickly hit one delightful straight drive and one superbly timed cut stroke to take his team's total well beyond the important psychological barrier of 300.
By the mid-point of the second hour, another Test half-century had arrived for him toward the end of what has become a fine individual series.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Parore, meanwhile, edged an early delivery from Glenn McGrath (1/48) just short of second slip fieldsman Mark Waugh and later survived an imploring lbw appeal from Shane Warne (1/87) as he attempted to sweep. Similarly, though, his concentration was impeccable. He was not only quick to banish bad strokes from his memory but also began to swell his collection of good ones - none better among them than a cracking slog sweep for six, from down on one knee to Warne, half an hour before the interval.
The Australians, for their part, used McGrath and Gillespie in an impressive, sustained 13 over burst at the start of the day before making a double change to introduce Warne and Brett Lee (2/104) just before the drinks break. McGrath returned 15 minutes ahead of lunch, but few impressions were made on the New Zealanders on a pitch that continues to play truly.
The visitors are continuing to make most of the early running - in more ways than one - and doing so very impressively in this Test match.
Date-stamped : 02 Dec2001 - 06:36