Green’s quick learning and Hazlewood’s redemption pile on pain for New Zealand

New Zealand
Cameron Green was sheepish on the evening of day one when he admitted he did not know how to bat with the lower order.

“I’m still trying to work out how best to play with a tail,” he said. “It’s still a fine balance between still trying to score runs but then [not] making the guys down the bottom face too many balls.”

It took him all of 16 hours to work it out, as he and Josh Hazlewood broke a host of records with a rare and priceless 116-run 10th wicket partnership to completely deflate New Zealand and help post a first innings total of 383 that looked above par on a tricky Basin Reserve pitch. It was the highest tenth-wicket partnership against New Zealand in Test history, and Australia’s fourth-best ever.
Green continued where he left off from the opening day, making a masterful 174 not out while Hazlewood survived 62 balls for 22. It was the third-longest innings Hazlewood had faced in Test cricket in terms of deliveries, and his fifth-highest score, having not passed 11 in his last 28 Test innings across five years.
Matt Henry‘s fifth wicket finally broke the stand after New Zealand suffered the indignity of having the first session extended by half an hour, having not taken a wicket in the first 120 minutes of play.

As good as Green and Hazlewood were, it was an insipid display from New Zealand, except for Henry who deserved to have a fifth much earlier in the morning. They had no obvious plan. There was no real vigour or intensity. They bowled with the assumption that the tenth wicket would fall at some point. But it did not. It was yet another example of New Zealand letting Australia off the hook after having them in a vulnerable position.

Tim Southee‘s form with the ball has to be a huge worry for the New Zealand hierarchy. One Test shy of 100, the captain went wicketless in the first innings and hardly troubled Australia’s final pair. He bowled just four maidens in 27 overs and built no pressure on any batters. In his last five Tests, he has taken just six wickets at 62.66, striking at 124.5.

Green’s actions early in the morning backed up his own words about not quite knowing how to shepherd the tail. There were times it looked like Hazlewood was the senior man talking him through it. There was even one comical moment when Hazlewood almost completed two full runs after some miscommunication with Green who did not run despite an easy two being on offer to retain the strike for the next over.

Hazlewood needed to survive 12 balls in the first three overs before Green found his method and started farming the strike. Green opted to play out the first four balls of each over with eight fielders on the rope, before either taking a single, walloping a boundary, or doing both.

While Henry was still causing him enormous trouble with balls pitched on a good length, the bowlers at the other end decided to bounce him to try and keep him on strike. Green gleefully smashed five pull shots over the legside fence into the crowd with zero fear of holing out to the men stationed in the deep.

Hazlewood then got into the groove smoking two cover drives himself. New Zealand’s heads dropped. The partnership climbed up the records charts, past the famous Jason Gillespie-Glenn McGrath laughathon at the Gabba in 2004.

It was a redemption of sorts for Hazlewood with the bat. He had cut a forlorn figure in Australia’s last Test against West Indies as he stood still in the middle, holding the pose of an attempted forward defence while his off stump was splayed, and Shamar Joseph charged away in celebration of a famous Test win.

Australia’s lower-order batting has been a major problem in recent times, save for the heroics of Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon at Edgbaston in the Ashes. There have been times where Australia have been six-out all out. The diminishing returns of Cummins, Lyon, Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc with the bat has been a source of concern within the camp, although it had been papered over by their outstanding bowling contributions.

So often it has been Australia who have been on the receiving end of frustrating last-wicket stands. Headingley 2019 lives long in the memory. But in the last 12 months, Australia has conceded three half-century tenth-wicket stands including two in the recent summer against Pakistan and West Indies. Only South Africa and now New Zealand have conceded one other 50-plus last-wicket stand in that time.

There would have been glee in the dugout as Green and Hazlewood kept accumulating with ease. The partnership looked in no trouble at all until Hazlewood chipped one to mid-off trying another expansive drive, having been very disciplined in defence for most of the session.

But he should be proud of his efforts. As should Green, whose highest Test score raised his average back up to 37.51, past the career marks of exulted Test allrounders Keith Miller and Ben Stokes.

And he now knows how to bat with the tail.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Rusty New Zealand in danger of early exit at the hands of West Indies
Bangladesh fall short as SA conjure a win from nowhere
Ravindra among three changes as New Zealand opt to bowl
Rohit on Bumrah: ‘He’s a genius with the ball’
Hathurusinghe pleased with bowlers for taking ‘ownership of the situation’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *