It's been a while since I posted to this group, and with a big job on the
way, I'll probably disappear again for a while longer.
But as far as I can observe, no one has yet commented on the similarities of
the present trans-Tasman test at the Gabba to the first test between NZ and
the West Indies played at Hamilton on 16-20 December 1999.
On the opening day, Adrian Griffith and Sherwin Campbell absolutely ***ed
the NZ bowling attack and put on 277 for the first wicket. Campbell was
dismissed for 170, Griffith was still there on 103 and the Windies closed
Day One looking very ominous indeed on 282/1.
On the second day, however, they collapsed, losing nine wickets for 83 runs
to end up all out for 365. Daniel Vettori took 4-83, Chris Cairns 3-73 and
Dion Nash 2-63. Those same three bowlers are playing in the current Gabba
test. New Zealand went on to make 393 with Carins scoring 72 off 82 balls.
Fleming made 66 and Craig McMillan, who has been knocking over the Aussies
with the ball today, chipped in with 51.
The Windies' openers could not duplicate their first-innings performance and
the whole batting order crumbled like a house of cards to be all out for 97.
Cairns took 7-27 and had a very neat match analysis of 10-100. That was New
Zealand's first individual 10-wicket test haul since Nash took 11 against
the English at Lord's in 1994. Also, Lance and Chris Cairns became the first
father-son team to take ten wickets in a test (at different times,
obviously). Anyway, needing just 70 to win, NZ got home with nine wickets to
spare to complete one of the great test comebacks of all time. Indeed, it
was the first time in history a side had lost after sharing a double century
partnership for the first wicket in the first innings.
Now in 2001, we've had Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden share a
double-century opening partnership in the first innings and both have scored
centuries. Yet Australia have subsequently lost six wickets very quickly.
Could we be seeing another match like the one at Hamilton in December 1999?
It's not beyond the realms of possibility. After threatening 600 when Hayden
and Langer were batting, Australia is now looking more like making 350,
which would be right in line with the 365 the Windies finished up with. New
Zealand, for once, has a reasonable batting lineup, though some batsmen,
like Sinclair and Astle, have yet to really prove themselves against the
Australian attack. But Astle has made a double century on this tour, and
Sinclair has two test double centuries (including 214 on debut in the next
test against the Windies at the Basin Reserve). So if the wicket flattens
out a bit and our batsmen can get in, they may well be able to overhaul the
Aussie total, assuming 350 is all they manage.
However, that 1999 West Indian team was a very weak side, and from the way
they played the rest of that tour, it was clear the double-century
partnership that began the first test was an aberration. What the Black Caps
are facing here is an Australian side that is the very best in the world
(much as it pains me, as a Kiwi, to admit that). And the Aussies have a way
of absorbing pressure and then fighting back. Adam Gilchrist is still out
there, and he's the type of player who could score a century before lunch (I
do hope those words are not prophetic!). If the BCs can't get him out
quickly tomorrow morning, they could yet be in for quite a long day in the
And of course, there is that Aussie bowling attack, which is far more
formidable than the West Indian one of 1999. A lot of their greats had gone,
and while Courtney Walsh was in the lineup, he seemed past his best. Many of
the other bowlers were not all that experienced at test level, if I recall
rightly. But the Aussies have got McGrath, Lee, Warne and Co., who are bound
to make life a lot tougher for the NZ batsmen than their West Indian
counterparts did in '99.
Still, at this point in time there are rather intriguing parallels with that
Hamilton test of late '99, and it will certainly be interesting to see
whether the parallels continue tomorrow or whether Gilchrist and the Aussie
tail-enders can spoil the NZ fightback and get them on track for 400+.
Naturally, I'm rather hoping the similarities to the '99 test continue. :-)