December 12, 2011 by dixwah
Day three: Australia (136 & 0/72) trail New Zealand (150 & 226) require a further 169 runs for victory
New Zealand are a solid, hardened, but ultimately average Test cricket team. To beat Australia, despite resembling more David than Goliath in its current state, they need their big players to step up and take every chance that comes their way.
Day three at Bellerive saw the Black Caps again miss golden opportunities to turn the knife, firstly leaving themselves a hundred runs short and then getting a crucial referral wrong that could have got them a vital early breakthrough.
It’s not Australia’s ability that has kept them in this match (although James Pattinson might have a case), it’s New Zealand’s inability to sieze it from them.
Jesse Ryder sums up New Zealand’s plight. Yesterday he’d cruised to 16, and with a big score beckoning that could put the match beyond Australia, was stumped down the leg-side off Hussey. The team’s most talented player contributed 48 runs in the series and as well as yesterday’s soft dismissal was caught twice in front of the wicket in Brisbane.
Ross Taylor wasn’t far better. After being dropped early, the skipper reached 56 before knicking Pattinson and sparking the inevitable collapse. Taylor averages over 40 in Test cricket but produced 76 runs at 19 in Australia.
And then there’s the non-review of Phil Hughes glove down the legside. Whereas previously New Zealand may have been able to blame poor umpiring, Cairns to Langer 2001 being a prime example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMTOeqiEl6g, their conservative approach to not risk losing an appeal so early in their innings may end up costing them the match.
The series may have taken a different path if Doug Bracewell hadn’t overstepped when rissoling Michael Clarke with the Brisbane Test in the balance. Clarke and Australia – think Ricky Ponting’s last Test hundred many moons ago (209 when dropped on nought in January last year) – are renowned for making the most of opponent’s mistakes.
In saying that though, the match is still evenly poised. Hughes is so out of touch he may not be able to make the most of his opportunity. And on Saturday morning I went for a coffee and came back with the score 7/80. But the Black Caps will need to take their chances (catches and reviews) to get across the line.