The Roar
The Roar


Marnus regains form but Australia's ongoing middle-order woes put heat on Carey as Kiwis claw back into Test

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9th March, 2024
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Australia gave up their advantage on day two of the Second Test with their unreliable middle order again failing to put New Zealand away in Christchurch with the match now precariously placed. 

With the wicket flattening out, the Black Caps enter day three on 2-134, a lead of 40, and have a golden chance to set Australia a decent victory target if overnight duo Tom Latham and Rachin Ravindra can get going. 

Australia should have dominated Saturday’s play to establish a match-winning lead but their middle-order woes, which have been a problem all summer, continued to surrender the advantage they had built up on the opening day. 

On the back of Travis Head getting out cheaply on day one to continue his miserable summer, Mitchell Marsh was dismissed for a duck and Alex Carey was again out sweeping for just 14 when his team needed him to stick around with Marnus Labuschagne.

In a welcome return to form, Labuschagne looked on course for his first hundred since the fourth Ashes Test last July but fell just before lunch when Glenn Phillips claimed a screamer in the gully. 

Mitchell Starc (28) and Pat Cummins (23 not out) swung freely to make amends for the middle-order stumbles but Australia ended up with a lead of 96 when they had a chance to bat the Black Caps out of the game. 

Carey’s spot in the team is coming under scrutiny and after Josh Inglis replaced him in the ODI side during the World Cup, the Western Australian keeper could be closing in on a Test debut next summer. 


Adding to Carey’s woes, he dropped a diving chance off Josh Hazlewood late on day two which should have sent Latham on his way for 59.

The South Australian left-hander was named in the ICC Test team of the year for 2023 and his glovework has for the most part been exemplary, but his batting has become unreliable and he is too often falling to the sweep, whether the conventional style or reverse.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 9: Alex Carey of Australia ducks under a bouncer during day two of the Second Test in the series between New Zealand and Australia at Hagley Oval on March 9, 2024 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Alex Carey ducks under a bouncer. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

He swept the second ball he faced from Phillips in Christchurch in what looked like a premeditated shot and spooned it to Latham in one of the softest dismissals imaginable. 

With the Australian selectors needing to regenerate the Test team with younger players due to the fact Cameron Green and Labuschagne (just) are the only players under 30 in the line-up, Carey cannot afford to be reckless with the bat. 

In his past 27 innings, Carey has registered just four half-centuries at an average of 23.38 and at 32, his career is at the crossroads. 

The Black Caps batted with much more certainty in the second innings after their paltry effort of 156 on day 1. 


Latham grinded his way to 65 by stumps off 154 deliveries with Ravindra navigating his way to 11 in a short stay at the crease. 

After opener Will Young nicked off to Mitchell Starc for one, Kane Williamson dropped anchor for New Zealand with customary poise. 

Latham fed off Williamson’s stability but soon after reaching his half-century, the world’s top-ranked Test batter was brought undone by the first ball of a Pat Cummins spell which caught his inside edge before clattering into the stumps to end their 105-run partnership. 

“It’s a good wicket. It did quite a bit on day one. It is a good surface. There is that bit of pace and bounce. If you can find gaps you get value for runs,” Williamson said.

“It’s nice to have a lead. We’ve just got to see how many we can get. There are no targets at this stage, it’s just batting and implementing plans.”

Matt Henry was again the star with the ball for New Zealand, taking 7-67 on his home ground, as the home side bounced back after nightwatchman Nathan Lyon (20) put on a frustrating half-century stand to start the day with Labuschagne.