In this series New Zealand have been like Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees – just when you think they’re finally dead they’ll come flying back at you through a screen door – the Australians will be bleeding and wounded after visiting this trans-Tasman Camp Crystal.
Game one, Westpactrust Stadium
I missed it. Bond strolled through Australia’s batsmen like he was desperate to catch the 6.00 news, but this humiliation was over too quickly, like getting to the bar five minutes before it closes. I prefer a more prolonged encounter. Luckily…
Game Two, Eden Park
… we got one. In 676 runs scored on Sunday, most of the boundary hitting was a pull / sweep (at the Sandringham Rd end) or cover drive (from the Terraces end) over that boundary in front of the South Stand. This (very) short boundary is international cricket’s equivalent of a straight drive to the back fence or square cut into the lemon tree in backyard cricket – a safe target that guarantees a result. Eden Park is starting to look more and more like what it is, a rugby ground that grumpily allows cricket to be played on it, it’s just the wrong shape and too small for the summer game – all scoring shots are either singles or boundaries. Hussey and Hodge’s batting meant we had a huge chase, but we went after it with all the cool calm composure of Richard Hadlee doing his tax return, with Taylor laying a solid foundation so MacMillian and Fulton could get us home. I can’t think of a better way to spend a cloudless Auckland day than a trip to the beach for a laze and a swim, then parking on the couch to see us humiliate the Aussies and win the series. This was GLORIOUS stuff – Monday should have been a national holiday.
Game Three, Seddon Park
At 2-0 down, there’s a kind of desperation about this Australian side, made up of up-and-comers instead of the legendary been-there-done-thats like we’re used to. The crowd really struggled to find a familiar target for their songs of sexuality speculation, no Warne, Waugh or McGrath meant a severe star shortage. I didn’t see Hayden’s innings, but this ground (now the pitch is OK again) is made for big scores, with its short boundaries, lightening outfield and the special atmosphere created by Hamilton’s finest screaming their lungs out after a day’s peer pressurised drinking in the sun with very little to eat – god I wish I had been there. MacMillian’s comeback is almost complete, with his fantastic innings bringing us back from 41-4, when I thought we were pretty much poked. McCullum is now one of the very best lower order batsmen in the world, he knows how to push ones and rotate the strike, as well as hit boundaries – I happily squealed like the child I am when he hit the first ball of the final over for six, leaving us one to win. The one two punch of Eden Park and Hamilton is like finding $20 on the ground and then finding $100 underneath it – just magic.
The Aussies now go home to face the music from their press – I liked this from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Every Australian loss on this tour was record-breaking in its own, depressing way. In Wellington, Australia suffered their first-ever 10-wicket loss. In Auckland, they surrendered the then second-highest successful run chase in one-day history, losing the No.1 ranking in the process. And in Hamilton last night, they usurped their previous effort by losing to a new second-highest run chase, pushing the Auckland result into third place. Australia have now conceded the world’s four largest successful run chases in the space of a year – three against the New Zealanders – and seem in a worrying state of disrepair less than a month out from their opening game at the World Cup.
Unfortunately for Australia, it’s only a couple of short weeks until touch down in one of the most unforgiving cricketing environments going (in fact, most cricketing environments are unforgiving, like Hamilton. Especially Hamilton). Yes they’ll have Ponting and Gilchrist back, but the rest look like boys, not men.
And what chance New Zealand at the big show? Who knows, trying to predict how we do is like Gerry Bownlee’s diet – fairly fruitless. There’ll be plenty of time for worrying about the World Cup soon, so for the moment let’s (3-0) just (3-0) enjoy it. 3-0. Ahem.