What did we learn from the first test?
It was an eventful game at the Basin Reserve to say the least.
A greenhouse style pitch and amazing caught and bowled dismissals from NZ were some of the highlights, however it was not enough to steer the ship home for the Black Caps.
Adam Voges became the first man to hit 500 runs without dismissal, Brendon McCullum joined the tiny list of men to play 100 consecutive tests and Usman Khawaja proved once again that he is one of the most elegantly in-form players on the international stage with a blistering innings of 140 at first drop.
The Australians’ victory on one of the greenest wickets seen in recent times has effectively silenced critics’ claims that the squad was only able to play well on flat, dry home pitches as seen in this summers’ run fest. Batsman such as Usman Khawaja and Adam Voges showed pure class in handling the quasi-English conditions and amassing a huge total to keep their side from batting twice. The pure domination over our Tasman rivals showed the world that the Australians have developed their 2016 team into a powerhouse capable of reclaiming the Ashes and the status as the premier test side on the ICC rankings.
It was hard to see how the Kiwis were outplayed on home soil considering the talent and vigour of the side in conjunction to being fired up for their captain’s farewell series. It was the efforts from the bowlers which secured Australia’s dominant place over New Zealand however. Josh Hazlewood’s first innings performance reminded the world that his run of form is far from over while securing 4 essential wickets by utilising the movement the green-top wicket provided. Nathan Lyon further showed us why he will be the spinner of choice for many years with a convincing four wicket haul in the second innings.
The real issue the test team has however is the decisions to be made concerning Mitchell Marsh. Barely averaging over 10 at number six, Marsh is severely under-performing in his role as an all-rounder. The 24-year-old’s efforts with the ball however are something to be taken seriously. Marsh’s consistent stream of handy wickets this summer could very well put him in the eyes of selectors as a specialist seamer, and a handy replacement for an injured quick. It would not be the first time an all-rounder has performed exceptionally in one facet of their game and turned into a specialist. One would only have to look to Steve Smith’s development as a cricketer to see an example of this happening.
With the pressure significantly reduced from this series, it would be advantageous for selectors to experiment with what they can before a big year of international cricket and the dreaded test tour of India early next year.
The next test starts on Saturday in Christchurch in what will be a momentous and emotional event for home-side fans farewelling their captain Brendon McCullum, arguably one of the greatest cricketers to ever grace the Black Cap of New Zealand.