Australia 454 & 2/217d defeated New Zealand 256 & 136 @ The SCG by 279 runs
POTM (And the series): Marnus Lambshanks – 215 & 59
This Australian summer will be remembered for the worst bushfires in recorded history (And they’ll be burning ever still), killing people and ungodly numbers of animals, destroying homes, communities & acres of land the size of European nations, turning the air quality of our major cities into a poisonous fume…. and turning New Zealand’s skyline into a tribute to Blade Runner.
Although if you live at Kirribilli House, it’ll be remembered for the utter disasters that have befallen the New Zealand cricket team.
Ahead of the Pink Test, Trent Boult was already gone with a broken hand, but on top of that, skipper Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, and Mitch Santner ALL went down with a bad case of the shits (The most explosive performance by Kane this summer), leading to their withdrawals, and if that wasn’t enough, Tim Southee, who I’m pretty sure wasn’t injured, ended up being left out for workload management reasons.
Fast bowlers being left out for workload reasons…. where have I seen that before….
Ian Smith described the Kiwi team as a Ripley’s XI, before changing it to a more familiar reference for the kids.
This is like a M*A*S*H unit.
I’m kind of expecting Tom Latham to name Hawkeye Pierce and “Hot Lips” Houlihan in the team.Fox Sports Australia
Corporal Maxwell Klinger was going to bat at No.6, but apparently he’s now coaching the Melbourne Renegades to similar lows as this New Zealand side.
So with an infirmary ward resembling a failed British attack on The Somme, into the side came a pair of debutants in Glenn Phillips and Todd Astle (No relation to Nathan), former New South Welshman Will Somerville as the resident spinner, while Matt Henry + Jeet Raval were recalled.
That left Tom Latham as the 30th captain of New Zealand, joining names like Richard Hadlee and Tim Finn, but still, the Kiwis definitely had more hope than the last team to be led by a Latham.
As is now an apparent custom, the Aussies went in unchanged, and by my own count, Australia made a grand total of one change to the XI in 5 Tests this summer – And it was due to Josh Hazlewood’s injury.
What an age we live in.
Day 1 (Australia 3/283)
Tim Paine won the toss and had no hesitation about batting, and after a positive start, Joe Burns, as he always seems to be, was the first player to go, caught by Ross Taylor at first slip for 18 off a sharp outswinging delivery from Colin de Grandhomme with the score at 39.
With Davey Warner and Marnus Lapunnysurname taking up the slack, the Aussies settled down and made it to Lunch at an attacking 1/95.
Then, not even 3 balls into the middle session, Warner managed to fall for another legside trap on 45, flicking a pissy shot around the corner into the waiting arms of de Grandhomme off the bowling of none other than Neil Wagner.
It brought the Steve Smith clones together, but while Marnus plodded along as he now does so bloody well, Smith went an agonising 38 balls without scoring that elusive first run, leading to concerning scenes around the SCG, and indeed, the Australian continent.
Thinking Smithy was playing 5D chess while we were playing checkers, the Australian dressing room was not the least bit concerned.
If only he’d donated $250 per dot ball to the Bushfire appeals – Every other athlete’s fundraising would have looked like an average night at Crown Casino.
Eventually, Smith was off the mark after 39 balls and 45 minutes, and the crowd went mild.
Having got himself set, Smith’s scoring picked up markedly after that, with Marnus bringing up his half-century in the process, and the Aussies went to Tea at 2/182.
Smith reached his half century, and not long after that, South African Smith brought up his latest Test ton, ending an agonising 3 innings drought.
As a result of this latest net session, Marnus also passed Smudge’s batting average (He ended up at 63.63, compared to 62.84) thus making him the incumbent as the holder of the ‘Best Since Graeme Pollock’ title, previously held by luminaries like Adam Voges and Michael Hussey.
For the first meaningful time since 2017, a Queenslander has one-upped a New South Welshman.
The Kiwis eventually got the breakthrough in the final hour, when Smith was dismissed for 63, as de Grandhomme’s trundlers did the trick again, breaking up a 156-run partnership.
I can’t tell what was more shocking – Steve Smith going through the entire summer without scoring a Test ton… Or Neil Wagner not being the one to claim his scalp.
Wade and Lockedbikechain saw it out to stumps with a couple of well struck boundaries (Wagner copping some sustained abuse from Wadeos), and the Aussies finished the day on 3/283, with the demigod on 130.
As the heat became worse on Saturday (35 at the ground, and apparently it cracked a lazy 47 out West), Wade didn’t even last an over into the day, getting bowled by Will Somerville for 22 – Latham’s decision to start the day with spin obviously taken straight from Glenn Maxwell a couple of days earlier in the Big Bash, and he achieved similar results.
The Kiwis suffered yet another illness related casualty, with Raval the latest player to be humanely euthanised due to the flu (He obviously kept the aircon on 22 all night), forcing the Kiwis’ batting coach (And former player) Liam Fulton to don the whites again and run the drinks.
Despite being declared legally deceased, Jeet returned to the field.
The next day.
Travis Head was in next, but he reverted back to type after the Boxing Day heroics, and scored only 10 before he was bowled by Henry, who by this point in time had 1 working thumb, while Marnus trucked along past another 150 score.
As the skipper got set with his in-form teammate, the Aussies reached Lunch at 5/354.
As the partnership ticked on past 50 and the time struck 2 o’clock, LasagneShane moved on to 199, although Timmy decided to hoard the strike (to the boos of the crowd), just to remind everyone who was the alpha of the Australian team.
He was standing up the other end watching you, Tim.
Eventually, Paine cut Astle to the boundary trying to get a single on the last ball of the 133rd over, getting Marnus back on strike, and despite his dad looking like he’d stuck a gorilla on his son falling short of a double ton, our favourite South African since Kepler Wessels got over the 200 mark with an outside edge to the rope – his 19th four of the innings.
As a new member of the Double Ton Club (aka the Ancient Society Of No Mark Waughs), Marnus was welcomed by the club’s official spokesperson, Jason Gillespie.
A short while later, Timmy received a very harsh punishment for delaying the double ton – Dutchy de Grandhomme took his off-stump with another classic 115 km/h trundler, his 3rd wicket of the innings.
A short time after that, The La Bouche Show came to an end on 215, when he tried cracking another straight drive over Todd Astle’s head – It was slightly mistimed, and the man with no relation to Nathan lept up and performed the most casual caught & bowled of the summer.
With the tail now well and truly exposed, Jimmy Pattinson was on the receiving end of another kind of dismissal that would be considered normal in the Big Bash – He got hit on the body by a Wagner ball that stayed low, it somehow popped onto the back of the bat, and dropped back onto the stumps.
Thanks to some late punishment from Mitchell Starc (22 off 21), the Aussies passed 450, before they were finally dismissed for 454, at which point it was time for Tea – Every Kiwi bowler to feature during the innings would take a wicket.
Facing another massive deficit, the Kiwis achieved a Festivus miracle in the final session, not losing either of the Toms (Latham & Blundell) to reach stumps unblemished on 63, with Blundell surviving the latest bloodthirsty DRS challenge from the Aussies for a caught behind, which had to stay with the on-field call, in a massive victory for Timmy Paine’s paranoia about technology.
But, in a scary moment for the Aussies, Wade was struck flush in the helmet fielding at short leg by one of Tommy Latham’s attempts to smack Marnus, requiring an overnight concussion test.
Fortunately, he was passed fit and was back out fielding on Pink Lady Day.
Day 3 (Jane McGrath Day)
It was the annual Pink Lady Day with Pigeon at the centre doing his best for Breast Cancer Research, although I suspect it took a forced backseat role to the Bushfire fundraisers – In particular, the Australian bowling attack was donating $1000 for every wicket they took during the Test.
It appeared the Kiwis were very keen to help them.
Only 5 overs into the day, Lyon forced Cowboy Blundell to drag on for 34, bringing the opening partnership to an end on 68.
Raval, having recovered sufficiently from the flu, wandered out at No.3, and for the first time this series, he didn’t produce a No.2 with the bat, setting another solid partnership of 49 with Latham, with Jeet’s knock of 31 being his highest score in 8 Test innings… Before he was trapped plumb LBW by Lyon (Even Aleem could see it), which a desperate DRS review returned nothing more than 3 red lights.
Now joined by Ross Taylor in sight of Stephen Fleming’s all-time New Zealand runs record, Tommy Latham looked like he was going to reach a well-earned half-century, but all of that half-work was brought undone straight after Raval’s LBW, with a simple pop-up off Cummins to Starc at mid-on, in a dismissal so soft you could get a good night’s sleep on it.
2 wickets gone like that, although the Kiwis reached lunch in a fairly respectable 3/141, but as the players returned after the break, the crowd was treated to a streaker in a brim hat going at full pelt.
Actually, it was just Aleem Dar impersonating Michael Johnson in Atlanta.
Taylor’s quest to pass The Flem would have to wait another day, after Cummins trapped him dead in front for a quickfire 22, which Aleem had no hesitation raising the finger for, and a DRS review confirmed the call, although the Kiwis did retain the review due to the impact staying as Umpires’ Call.
A short time later, Paine’s latest dopey review was for an apparent catch by Head which was apparently gloved by BJ Watling, which was revealed to be 100% arm guard, although Jobby didn’t last too long, dragging a Starc delivery onto his leg stump for 9.
So with the Kiwis once again in freefall (Fitting, as it is a flightless bird), de Grandhomme was joined by the debutant Phillips, and they added 32 for the 6th wicket, before Dutchy got greedy and tried pinching 2, but Matty Wade still had enough of his memory left to launch a throw to the strikers’ end, and Paine whipped the bails off with the Kiwi No.7 not even a bee’s dick out of his ground.
6/195, and it apparently got worse, as Pattinson thought he’d taken the latest soft wicket of Phillips for 28, who holed out straight to Head at deep mid wicket, only to realise he’d overstepped.
That was only the 3rd reprieve Phillips was given by the Australian attack – Gazza dropped 2 would-be caught & bowled chances, first time around on 2 (Which managed to cut Gazza’s left thumb), and again on 17 from a full toss, which managed to strike his left thumb again.
Good move Gazza – It’s not a really caught & bowled unless you stick your mit out and pluck an arsey one hander.
Eventually, Phillips made the most of his chances to bring up a debut half-century, but he couldn’t avoid the No.1 Test bowler forever, and Glenn departed for 52 when he was clean bowled by a superb inswinger.
Somerville was bowled for a 10-ball duck to give Gazza his 3rd wicket, then Wagner was bowled for a 2-ball duck, which also moved him past Beefy Botham on the all-time Test wickets list (384), and in another random finish, The GOAT claimed his Michelle when Henry, bravely batting with 8 fingers and a thumb, fell for 3 thanks to a sharp stumping from Paine.
That also gave Garry another unique mark – A 5 wicket haul against every Test nation he’s played.
The Kiwis were all out for 251 (Which was upped to 256 the following day), and once again, despite being in a position to enforce the follow-on, the Aussies built on the lead and gave the bowlers a rest.
In a crazy end to the day, Burns nearly had himself run out twice in 5 minutes, in a desperate effort to destroy all of his gloves and waste enough time.
Eventually, the Aussies made it to stumps at 0/40, leading by 243.
With the weather looking positively terrible for Monday, the Aussies needed quick runs.
Good thing David Andrew Warner exists.
After making it to 40 in one 100 run opening stand for the summer, Burns was trapped LBW by Astle, ending his summer as one of the few Australian players with more questions than answers.
As fate would have it, Astle nearly had Labuschagne caught & bowled in both innings….
But the spinner dropped a relative sitter on 4.
Nathan Astle wouldn’t have dropped that.
Once again playing with the freedom of a dog with 45 toys, Warner rifled his way to 89 off 130 at lunch, and Labuschagne on 36, and thanks to a couple of boundaries, Davey boy reached his ton 15 minutes after the resumption, capping off the summer on a high note, as he did the customary jump for joy, apparently a plug for loyal sponsors Toyota….
Oh what a feeling.
While the slaughter continued unabated, in a really rare scenario, Warner and Laverne&Shirley were warned by the umpires about running on the pitch and causing potential damage, and after Warner apparently took one too many steps on the deck running for a single, Aleem cracked the shits and issued a seldom seen 5-run penalty, which was tacked on to New Zealand’s 1st innings score – Which would’ve been enough to avoid the follow-on, if Paine had bothered to enforce it.
Summing up this latest comedy sketch, Aleem tapped his left shoulder repeatedly with his right hand (The signal for 5 penalty runs to the batting team), when the signal for penalty runs to the fielding team is to put one hand on the opposite shoulder and just stand there looking like Marcel Marceau.
After Marnus holed out on 57 (Denying him the record for most runs in a 5 test summer), that was enough for the declaration on 2/217, with Warner unbeaten on the fabled Triple Nelson, leaving the Kiwis to chase 415 to win.
Funnily enough, the Aussies also declared their 2nd Innings in Perth after scoring 217.
The first wicket fell when Gazza, not done with dry rooting the Kiwis, took an absolute blinder off Starc, getting rid of Blundell (This time in the field) for 2.
Starc made it a Tom Tom when he removed Latham
The Kiwis reached the fabled Richie Benaud 9.4 overs in, which was right about the time Lyon made it 3 wickets down when Raval tickled one behind to Paine.
They were dropping like ninepins when Phillips fell for a 4 ball duck shortly afterwards via a faint outside edge to Paine (Upheld via a really hopeful review), making it an utterly dismal 4/22, as the Kiwis realised the apocalypse had well and truly hit them.
Lyon at that point had 2/0 from 2 overs, and had that ripper catch.
Ross Taylor tried his best to steady what remained of the sinking ship, ensuring the Kiwis passed 30, and as he moved on to 22, finally passed his former captain Stephen Fleming for the most Test runs for New Zealand, fulfilling a goal Martin Crowe had set many moons ago.
It didn’t last long – Pat Cummins cleaned up his off stump about 4 balls later, stranding the visitors on 5/38, and the question now wasn’t about would we get a result…. it was would New Zealand even crack triple figures.
It was also around this time Warnie announced he was auctioning off his baggy green for the Bushfire Appeal, and given the fact it was SK Bloody Warne’s baggy green, I figured it had a huge chance of raking in more dollarydoos than Don Bradman’s baggy green – So far, Warnie cracked the Half-Million marker.
To rehash a joke I made 2 days ago, I can only think Warnie would easily crack a 7 figure auction if he put his classic floppy hat up for bird.
Although, based on Warnie’s previous exploits, you don’t need to pay to get your hands on his floppy.
Eventually, Watling and de Grandhomme got the Kiwis to the ton (Colin with a half-ton of his own), and eventually, Pass de Dutchy To The Left Hand Side fell to Lyon.
In a determined effort to pitch another $1000 to the Bushfire appeal, Astle made a quickfire 17, then played a wild sweep that sat a mile up in the air, and by the time it came to earth, Patto had provided us with the Last of the Summer Catches, and it was a beauty.
Starc spectacularly ripped Somerville’s middle stump from the earth to make it 8 down, and then Watling played a wild sweep to Cummins, giving Lyon his 3rd career 10fer, and with Henry not batting with his broken thumb, the match was done and dusted, and the brooms were out for the Kiwis, after losing in a series sweep.
Here’s a piece of incredible information – There were 12 days of cricket in this series – The ram rooters were fielding at some point during all of them.
It was a tough fight for POTM between Garry’s 10fer and Marnus’ double ton, but ultimately, on the basis that the double ton set everything up, the resident South African got the nod, and he also got the nod for player of the series, having finished the summer scoring 896 runs across the 5 Tests, beating out the great Neil Harvey for the most by an Aussie in a 5 Test summer, and only 9 runs short of English legend Wally Hammond’s record of 905 during the 1928/29 Ashes.
After the festivities were done, Mark Howard, host of some kind of podcast that he absolutely never brings up, invited himself back into the Australian dressing rooms, while all the players eventually got together for the traditional post-series piss-up, where the Kiwis were most likely reminded by Dave Warner about how shit they are.