The Roar
The Roar


Hazlewood's high five skittles Black Caps, but misfiring top order again stops Aussies taking full control

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8th March, 2024
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A five-wicket haul from Josh Hazlewood helped Australia run through New Zealand on the first day in Christchurch, but familiar batting woes have prevented the tourists taking a stranglehold on the match.

Hazlewood’s latest dominant display in a career-best summer that has now netted him 34 wickets at 13.7 across seven Tests was one of his finest, the right-armer vindicating Pat Cummins’ decision to bowl first by blasting through the Black Caps’ top order with a potent mix of seam movement and relentless accuracy.

New Zealand could only muster 162 as four of the top five – Tom Latham, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell and the prized scalp of Kane Williamson – fell to Hazlewood, with the first three edging a perfect line and length for catches behind the wicket, while Williamson was trapped plumb LBW by a sharp nip-backer.

Adding Matt Henry to his list of scalps for the final wicket of the innings, after a last-minute decision to review an edge behind despite a minimal appeal, the haul is the 33-year old’s 12th in Tests, an outstanding record for the George Harrison of Australia’s much-vaunted ‘Fab Four’ bowling quartet of him, Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc.

Starc had a milestone day of his own, his three taking him past the great Dennis Lillee into outright fourth on Australia’s all-time Test wickets tally, with a trademark yorker to trap tailender Scott Kuggeleijn plumb LBW first ball the latest addition to his highlight reel.

However, for all they achieved with the ball and in the field, a diving Mitchell Marsh catch at third slip to remove Will Young the highlight, Australia’s now brittle top order was again unable to totally capitalise on such a strong start, in the face of an inspired spell of bowling from Matt Henry.


4/124 at stumps after Steve Smith (11) continued his troubled start to life as an opening batter and Usman Khawaja (16), Cameron Green (25) and Travis Head (21) all fell after getting set, only a much-needed return to runs from Marnus Labuschagne prevented a total collapse.

Smith could consider himself slightly unlucky to fall, once again copping a rough umpire’s call LBW decision after shouldering arms to debutant Ben Sears’ third ball in Test cricket, ball-tracker finding it to be fractionally clipping off stump.

Head, meanwhile, can have few such excuses, a poorly executed pull shot off the excellent Henry with stumps in sight taking a bottom edge to be safely pouched down the leg side by Tom Blundell.

With the pressure on his spot ramping up to 11 after a torrid first Test in Wellington, Labuschagne’s unbeaten 45 at stumps will keep the wolf from the door for now, especially if he can push on on Day 2 to make a score of note and anchor the innings as Green did at the Basin Reserve.

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While far from his best, regularly playing and missing and looking scratchy earlier, the Queenslander pushed through some testing bowling from Henry and Sears in particular to see Australia safely through to stumps, along with nightwatchman Lyon, a mere 38 runs behind the Black Caps’ first innings total.