An estimated 16,000 Kiwis showed up on Boxing Day.
Turns out only 2 of them could play cricket.
The MCC and Cricket Australia are geniuses – You can’t have any crowd problems at Bay 13….
IF THERE IS NO BAY 13.
No wonder the abuse for Sir Richard Hadlee was down dramatically.
Australia 467 & 5/168d vs New Zealand 140 & 240 by 247 runs @ The MCG
POTM: Travis Head (Aus) – 114 & 28
As I recovered from the annual late Christmas night at the neighbours, Kane Williamson saw the tinges of green on the 22-yard Gaza Strip of a pitch, and without hesitation elected to bowl, to the delight of some 16,000 Kiwis who had flown over for a Trans-Tasman Boxing Day 32 years in the making, and additionally to see if they could make a life for themselves in Australia appearing on A Current Affair as dole bludgers.
That led to a mega crowd of 80,473, the best non-Ashes crowd on Boxing Day since 1975, when Sir Clive, Sir Viv and Gordon Greenidge took on Lillee and Thomson… and came out the other end.
If winning the toss sent the Kiwis wild, the returning Trent Boult created scenes unseen since Slice of Heaven went to No.1, when he skittled Joe Burns for a golden duck 4 balls into the day.
That once again brought David Warner and Marnus Lambshanks together, and the pair would both get starts in a 60-run stand, until Warner fell just before lunch when he edged Wagner into the slips, and Tim Southee stuck his big mit out and dismissed him for 41.
So out strolled Steve Smith, and the Kiwi contingent struck a mighty blow by booing him (Worked out well for the Poms), which the locals fought back against with a big cheer, although the booing would turn out to be a minor note in things Smithy had the shits about – Nigel Llong apparently didn’t understand the dead ball rules when Smith tried sneaking a bye after being hit.
As the pitch started to flatten out and the cloud disappeared on a cool day, the bowl first gamble was starting to get away from the Kiwis, with Boult and Wagner’s efforts in pinning down both the Steve Smith lookalikes getting brought undone by several overs of abuse towards Mitchell Santner.
Marnus passed his traditional half-century, but ended up falling in a freak occurrence by Test cricketing standards – A shorter delivery from Colin de Grandhomme ended up hitting his elbow… and then the off stump.
By Big Bash standards, that’s a normal way to get dismissed.
Matthew Wade then stepped up, and combined with Smithy to resist the fierce pressure from Wagner and Boult, leading to Wade having to invoke the spirit of Michael Jackson to beat out a devil of a sandshoe crusher from Boult.
Matty are you okay, are you okay, are you okay Matty?
Turns out he was, and eventually the pair would add another 72 midway through to the final session, pushing the score past 200, and ending when the former Victorian became the latest Australian batsman to get a healthy start before departing, this time for 38 thanks to de Grandhomme’s trundlers from around the wicket.
Smith and Travis Head spent the rest of the day combating the short stuff, with Smith finally posting a Test half-century this summer, while in the outer, Bay 13 may been dismantled by the bourgeois and their pissy gazebo, but its spirit lives in the form of the mighty beer snakes and beer tray snakes on full display in M8 at 5:30, leading to the fun police to ignore the beautiful art on display and give quite a few people their marching orders.
Wow, evicting people at 5:30.
That’s really going to teach them a lesson – Form a beer snake, beat the crowd.
Australia reached stumps at 4/257, with Smith on 77 and Dick Head on 25, as Williamson’s decision to bowl first was backfiring like the old Cortina from Keeping Up Appearances.
After Smith survived 2 sessions of short pitched terror from Wagner and his Valkyries on Boxing Day, he could barely make it past an hour’s play on Friday, falling for 85, and this time it was Henry Nicholls who casually plucked his right arm in the air and sent the Australian Don Bradman on his way.
I admire Wagner – He knows he’s going to cop a lifetime’s supply of revenge bouncers when he goes out to bat, and yet he couldn’t give a rat’s arse.
Now that’s commitment.
The skipper strolled to the crease to join Head, and the Kiwis’ efforts to bring him undone with the same tactics they used to eliminate Smith couldn’t work, mainly because Timmy was able to get on the front foot and land a few blows of his own, mainly thanks to his compulsive pulling, which has so often proven his downfall.
The Aussies went to town on Santner Claus, and Timmy’s compulsive pulling served him very well, moving on to another half-century, to the welcome relief of the universe.
The last time people were given such graphic details about a compulsive puller, Jon Dorotich was seen in a carpark covering for Wayne Johnston.
As the lead kept blowing out past 400, the Kiwi spin situation was non-existent, with Santner firing down some genuine Four n’ Twentys that were devoured by Head & Paine, and it was a pretty glaring statement on Santner’s efforts that Blundell was called into the attack, and managed to fire down as many threatening deliveries in 3 overs as Santner did all innings.
The Head Paine the Kiwis were experiencing got even worse when the pair brought up the 150 run partnership, with Paine looking half a chance at scoring his century before Head, only for Timmy’s knock to come to abrupt end on 79, when the Kiwis went up for LBW, only to be turned away by Umpire Erasmus.
Despite looking even less like an LBW than Head’s non-decision, the DRS said otherwise.
Shortly after Starc came and went, Head finally reached his ton, the first Croweater to score an MCG Test ton since Greg Chappell against England in February 1980 – The result of the make-up shag between Kerry Packer and the ACB that led to Australia playing coinciding Tests between the West Indies and the Poms.
The great irony of it all – In an innings where most of the top order got starts before missing out on a milestone, it was the guy who always gets shitcanned for not capitalising on good starts who scored a ton.
In the ‘Endangered Middle Order Batsmen’ List, I think it’s fair to say Trav has been moved to Least Concern.
Wagner nearly got Head (Not from his missus) LBW on 104, but Erasmus figured it was either missing or going over leg stump, and in what became a familiar sight for New Zealand, the review stayed with umpire’s call – Apparently only 49.99% of the ball was hitting the stumps.
With the innings nearing its end, Head opened up and belted a few more boundaries, before his knock came to an end on 114, and a short time later, the Aussies were bundled out for a lazy 463.
It left the Kiwis to face 22 overs against a new ball, and after a fast start, they couldn’t even last 6 without losing a wicket – Blundell edged through to Paine off Cummins, bringing Kane Willamson to the crease, but after a boundary to move to 9 off 13, the Kane Train was derailed by Jimmy Pattinson, who forced him to play a wild pull 400 feet in the air down the leg side, which Paine chased down to make a difficult catch.
It nearly got even worse when Ross Taylor was given out by Marais to drop the Kiwis to 3 down and without their 2 ace batsmen, but he went straight to the DRS, and it was as you were, when the ball somehow passed over leg stump.
Timmy had a theory as to how Taylor keeps using the DRS as an iron lung – He knows the guy in the truck.
And that was pretty much that – the Kiwis once again getting the pointy end of the rod at 2/44, as Paine officially declared himself a DRS conspiracy theorist on the ABC.
“We’ll have a bowl thanks.”
After yesterday’s DRS decisions, Mark Howard decided to head into the DRS truck and see how the show works – Apparently, the guy in the truck does not know Ross Taylor.
Despite yesterday’s reprieve, Taylor barely lasted an hour into the day before he fell to a circus catch in the slips for 4, and then Cummins found himself on a hat-trick when Henry Nicholls was salmon trout LBW first ball, apparently the first time in his last 70 wickets that Cummins has dismissed someone LBW.
But, just as Mitchell Starc has experienced several dozen times already this summer, the Cumdog Millionaire would not complete the hat-trick.
As the wickets tumbled to leave the Kiwis at 5/58, another partnership formed between Latham and de Grandhomme to at least ensure the Kiwis passed 100, Starc removed de Grandhomme with an edge to Warner, and then 2 balls later, appeared to have Santner gone 2nd ball with a ball that popped off his glove and straight up to leg gully, only for Umpire Erasmus to remain poker-faced.
Despite the sweat band on Santner’s glove (Aka part of the glove) visibly moving when the ball struck, Blind Freddy, aka Aleem, decided to stick with the on-field decision.
The wonders of DRS – Brought in to help reduce human error, only to be ruined by human error.
Obviously feeling bad for robbing Paine of a rare victory with the DRS, Santner did absolutely nothing with the bat anyway, and was caught behind off Pattinson for 3.
As the only Kiwi to last longer than 2 hours at the crease, Latham did a good job to bring up his half-century, before he fell cheaply trying to drive Cummins through the offside, resulting in a thick edge through to Paine.
Cummins brought up another 5 wicket haul by removing Southee, and Starc, after narrowly missing out on the chance to kill the Fox Cricket rover, got Boult right on the glove with a short ball, enough to fracture his hand and take him out for the series.
It obviously wasn’t immediate damage, because the Lightning Boult had enough power to smack Lyon down the ground for a 6.
I’m assuming Starcy apologised to Trent… clearly he was trying to injure Wagner instead.
Eventually, the Kiwis were bundled out for 148 just after 2pm, but once again, Paine didn’t enforce the follow-on, instead telling Warner and Burns to belt as many runs as they could before Wagner inevitably cleaned up both of them with a short ball.
After a solid start of 62 for the opening wicket, Warner fell for 38 when he opened up the off-side against Wagner, only to pick out Blundell, and Marnus and Burnsy then teamed up to move the score to 100 and the lead past 400, but it ended when Loosebuschange took a quick single against Santner, only for some slick fielding from Latham, finished off by the spinner, to send Marnus back surprisingly early.
Always knew he was a useless South African.
The Kiwis in the crowd were obviously obstructed from the match situation, going mad everytime a wicket fell, especially after Wagner once again sent Smith back to where he came from.
Another big effort by Wagner, especially considering 15 minutes earlier, he’d been butchered as a$1.60 favourite at Moonee Valley.
Apparently one of those cheering Kiwis was All Blacks utility Jordie Barrett, who was escorted out by the Victorian cops after sculling 2 watered down overpriced beers, which apparently is now classified as bad behaviour.
I sympathise with you Jordie – We both have live with the fact that we’re the 3rd best rugby players in our respective families.
Head and Wade made it through to stumps, with the Aussies up by 456.
Australian cricket fans received some devastating news on Sunday morning – Potassium Peter Siddle was retiring from International cricket, effective immediately.
Banana prices across the country promptly crashed upon hearing the news.
Head and Wade tacked on a few more runs in the opening hour, until Wagner took one last wicket, clipping Head’s leg stump after he shuffled across his crease, and suffering from a classic case of not being arsed batting again, Paine declared on 5/168, leaving the Kiwis the utterly impossible chase of 488.
Needing to bat out a mere 165 overs (At least), Blundell, true to his nickname of Cowboy, immediately went out firing like Roy Rogers, and 4 balls in, survived a half-arsed LBW shout from Starc which the Aussies didn’t review, feeling that it was going over the top like most LBW shouts had been.
Fortunately it was a minor note, and Blundell made no impact on the 2nd innings.
The Aussies kept bowling at Latham just outside of his off-stump, and wouldn’t you know it, he played at one, and got caught by Tim Paine for 8.
Just another Latham that Australians are happy to see the back of.
Kaptain Kane strolled out, and 8 balls later, was given out LBW by Umpire Erasmus, which he reviewed straight away, and continuing the Mutton Munchers’ new-found hatred for umpire’s call verdicts, it was clipping the stumps by a follicle.
That sums up where the Kane Train is at right now – Even Timmy Paine bettered his series output in 1 knock.
Summing up the dominance of the Australia pace attack against the Kiwi top order, in the same Patto over, Taylor fell for 3, and the Kiwis went to lunch in a near-fatal 3/38, having been dry rooted by the mythical creature that is a fully-fit Jimmy Pattinson.
To the delight of the Baaaaaaah-my Army/ The Underarmy/Whatever the hell those mutton munchers in the crowd were called, Nicholls and Blundell got going after Lunch and herded Lyon around in a 54-run partnership, with the GOAT claiming another wicket via Paine’s sharp stump work.
With his beard gone the way of the dodo in an inspired move before Day 4, Blundell kept on hammering away to 73, and the Kiwis were much improved to make it to Tea at 4/131, with BJ Watling partnering Blundell, who was looking like scoring his second ton in his brief career, providing a beacon in a sea of crap that has been the Kiwis’ latest foray across the ditch.
Just as Adam Gilchrist was mentioning the Kiwis possibly getting to stumps at 4 down – As if trying to invoke the dark ark of voodoo – The GOAT got fed up with being on the receiving end of an explosive BJ, and removed him for 22 via an inside edge to Warner at leg slip.
De Grandhomme was in next, and he wasn’t De Man to partner Blundell, scoring a quick 9 before Lyon and Warner planted another leg side trap, and De Moron took the bait in a really befuddling performance.
Blundell progressed to 90, coinciding with Pattinson returning to the attack, and second ball he struck Blundell on the quad, which Nigel Llong decided to give LBW for a laugh, and unsurprisingly, the DRS reversed the decision.
The decision of an umpire who knew Monday’s weather forecast.
Eventually, just after play reached the final hour, the Kiwis cracked 200 for the first time all series, Painey announced Warney had invited them around for a ‘soiree’ at his place if the Test was decided before stumps.
I imagine a soiree at Warney’s place is just a sampling session for the latest range of diet smokes from Benson & Hedges.
Determined to deny the Aussies a piss-up at The Sheik Of Tweak’s place, Blundell waded his way through the carnage to post the first Test century by a Kiwi at the MCG, which the Baaaaah-my Army celebrated as something akin to a victory, in spite of the earthquake of defeat about to consume them.
As I discovered, there’s a reason Cowboy held his bat handle facing up – He’s been raising money for a six-year-old girl named Hollie suffering from a rare form of cancer, by selling the multi-coloured bat grips exactly like the one he was using.
That alone is the best performance by a Blundell in Australia since James Blundell and James Reyne went to No.2 with that cover of Way Out West.
Having scored enough runs to keep himself in the team for Sydney, Santner became Lyon’s 4th victim for 27, via a thin edge to Paine at 5:30, Southee came in next, hit 2, and promptly called for what should’ve been an easy single after 3 balls, but after a few calls of yes-no-maybe-I don’t know, they both headed to the bowler’s end, and with four score and seven years to whip the bails off at the striker’s end, Paine sent the tailender on his way.
That also pretty much ensured Cummins would be stranded on 99 international wickets for 2019, so clearly Southee was playing the long con with that arse-up.
8 down, and with Boult no chance of batting, that meant just one wicket remained with 30 minutes left, and it wasn’t even 10 minutes later that Blundell kept smacking Lyon around to move on to 121 (The highest score of the Test) but the fun, and the Test, would come to an end when he smacked a full toss from Lasagne, who only bowled 3 overs at the day’s end, which Gazza buried his fingers under.
Despite the forecast of Judgement Day, the pitch held up well, and plenty of coterie members would have a raging horn at a crowd figure of 200,000+ over the 4 days, the 2nd best for a non-Ashes MCG Test, made possible in no small part to the remaining Kiwi fans who hadn’t been evicted and/or deported, and to the delight of Ian Smith, they were acknowledged by Williamson, mainly for giving the Black Caps a level of support they basically never get at home.
With the way the Kiwis played, you wouldn’t invite them back on Boxing Day for another 400 years, let alone 32.
With the sheer number of fans they brought out of the woodwork and across the ditch, you’d invite them back next year… if Peter Dutton lets them back in.