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Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Zealand exceed expectations as Australian batting wobbles: First Test Day 1

Australia 214 (M Clarke 98, T Southee 4/63), New Zealand 0/7: First Test Day 1 at Brisbane

There are many good things about the USA, from where I've recently returned, but media coverage of cricket isn't one of them. Internet reports are better than nothing but they don't really provide much material for detailed analysis, hence my silence for the last few weeks.

After all the storms in Brisbane overnight I wasn't expecting much play today. Fortunately only half an hour was lost, though the damage to some of the stands will take longer to repair. Daniel Vettori won the toss and sent Australia, who omitted Jason Krejsza from the 12, in (has anyone who took 12 wickets in a match ever been dropped from the team for the next game?).

On this occasion Vettori's decision turned out to be correct as the Australian top order struggled against some intelligent pace bowling. Tim Southee (does Australia have a 19 year old of his quality?) used the conditions extremely well and took the first three wickets (Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting) to leave the home team 3/23.

Michaels Clarke and Hussey hung on until lunch (3/60) without looking entirely at ease but they toughed it out until at 96 Chris Martin removed Hussey lbw for 35. Enter Andrew Symonds, who looked out of sorts despite some good fortune including a dropped catch and an 8 (4 all run + 4 ovrthrows) before edging the persistent Ian O'Brien to wicketkeeper McCullum.

Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Brett Lee didn't stay long but Clarke, looking thinner after his experiences in India, grew in assurance and moved the score from 8/160 to 214 before he was bowled by occasional bowler Jesse Ryder for a 98 (217b, 9x4) which kept Australia in the game.

Aaron Redmond and Jamie How survived five overs until stumps, leaving New Zealand clearly on top. Whether they can remain there is a moot point: their batting is brittle and the conditions are still helpful to good seam bowling. Tomorrow, weather permitting (and the forecast says that it will) should be the crucial day of the match.

Scorecard

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