Australia win by nine wickets

To say that New Zealand played poorly in the first Test is an understatement. Australia did play reasonably well, but the Kiwis failed to put up any sustained fight. The scoreline is probably not indicative of the gulf in talent between the two sides, but it was certainly a fair result given how they played.

The New Zealand top order was the most culpable. It can be reasonably said that they bat down to seven with Vettori, but those seven batsmen averaged just 28 in the match. Without the first innings heroics of Vettori and Brownlie it falls to just 16. Of the 13 top order dismissals, no fewer than nine of them were needless. (That’s including Vettori’s suicidal run out in the first innings, though he deserves credit for having played well up until then.) They looked like they had not realised they were no longer playing one day cricket and were allowed to leave balls outside off stump. When they were in the field they let the Australians off the hook multiple times. They dropped catches, took wickets off no-balls and possibly most damningly allowed Mitchell Starc to score 32 not out on debut as Australia put the match out of realistic reach. They will have a lot on which to work before the next Test.

Australia do deserve some credit. They bowled well enough to induce the brainless errors by the Kiwis and batted with discipline for the most part. (With the exception of Phil Hughes, who is probably nearing the end of his career.) It’s a bit difficult to determine how effective the new Australian bowlers really were; with New Zealand batting poorly and only Peter Siddle against whom to compare them there is an element of guesswork. I think Pattinson looked like a genuinely good find though. He bowled with proper pace and hostility and did pick up a couple of wickets that were not the direct result of poor batting. Lyon looks like he will be the first choice spinner for the foreseeable future, which would finally bring some stability to the role. I don’t think Mitchell Starc had much of a debut though, his unbeaten 32 notwithstanding. He took only two wickets in the match, both off poor shots by Kiwis in the first innings (McCullum and Ryder). He’s the most likely to go when Cummins returns, unless Clarke wants to play a very inexperienced attack against India.

I can’t really see New Zealand winning the second Test, or any Test against a side better than Bangladesh at the moment. They need to improve all facets of their game in the longest format, as right now they are fielding an XI who don’t seem to know how the game is supposed to be played.

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