The Roar
The Roar


Carey the clutch king: Gloveman's stunning 98, Cummins heroics keep Kiwi curse alive in thrilling comeback win

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11th March, 2024
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With his place as Australian wicketkeeper suddenly in jeopardy after a poor run of scores with the bat, Alex Carey’s brilliant unbeaten 98 to steer his team to a thrilling three-wicket victory over New Zealand did more than just win the match for his country – it might prove a career-saver.

Needing 202 runs for victory heading into Day 4 in Christchurch with six wickets remaining, the gloveman proved a man for the crisis as he turned matchwinner at Hagley Oval, combining first with Mitchell Marsh (80) for a sprightly 140-run partnership at nearly five an over; then steadying the ship with captain Pat Cummins (32 not out) for a nerveless 61-run unbroken stand to secure a famous comeback win.

While a century would have been appropriate for such a rearguard effort, quite possibly the finest innings by an Australian wicketkeeper since Adam Gilchrist’s legendary death-defying century against Pakistan in Hobart in 1999, Carey’s joy as he embraced Cummins after the latter struck the winning boundary through point showed he could scarcely have cared less about the milestone.

“I was happy with that!” Carey joked after the match about Cummins’ winning shot stranding him just short of three figures.

“I didn’t want to get on strike again!”

Player of the match honours were a fitting reward for the South Australian, whose run of low scores to start the series, combined with rival keeper Josh Inglis’ recent Sheffield Shield century, had led to significant pressure over his spot in the XI, but who couldn’t possibly have silenced his doubters more emphatically.

“This game ebbed and flowed, back against the wall this morning… it was nice to chase those runs down,” Carey said.


“The ball was nipping around, and I thought Mitch Marsh’s intent was outstanding, and got us going a little bit.

“That was the messaging this morning: let’s go out there and play our way, if you see an opportunity, take it. And I thought Mitch’s innings today was brilliant.”

The result is the second nerve-wracking Australian run chase in the past 12 months, following their remarkable two-wicket triumph against England in last year’s first Ashes Test; that both had Cummins playing a leading role and hitting the winning runs likewise speaks volumes about the captain’s calm head in times of crisis.

The result, and subsequent 2-0 series win, continues New Zealand’s misery on home soil against Australia, with their last Test victory at home over their bogey side coming some 31 years ago.

“We’ve got quite an experienced side, we’ve played a lot of Test matches and had quite a bit of success along the way – I think the story of this series was in key moments, one guy stood up,” Cummins said after the match of Australia’s twin victories.

“We didn’t necessarily play complete games, but in those pivotal moments, someone stood up and made themselves a matchwinner.

“We keep finding ways to win. It’s a pretty awesome squad.”


Having taken the match by the throat with a superb third day, questions must be asked how the Black Caps let the match slip; from fatally defensive fields set by captain Tim Southee to allow Marsh and Carey to tick the scoreboard over without risk early, to a dropped catch at point by Rachin Ravindra to spare the former just minutes into the day.

While Travis Head would fall the ball after for 18, it was Marsh who would prove, alongside Carey, the day’s most crucial contributor.

Debutant Ben Sears can hold his head high after finishing the innings with four wickets, including a double-strike midway through the day when he removed Marsh (LBW) and Mitchell Starc (caught at mid-wicket) in successive balls to leave Australia seven down with 59 still required.

But a narrow escape for Carey as he ramped a Sears short ball just over a leaping Glenn Phillips at gully would prove the last sniff the Black Caps would get, the wicketkeeper using his oft-maligned sweep to good effect to keep Phillips at bay and Cummins batting with authority unbefitting of a number nine, a glorious on drive to bring the runs required into single figures the standout shot.

“It ended up being a great Test match – obviously the partnership with Mitch Marsh and Alex Carey was a great partnership that sort of broke the back of our attack,” Southee, whose 100th Test having shared the milestone with fellow great Kane Williamson ended in bitter disappointment, said.


“When you’re playing the number one side in the world, you just need to go that little bit further.

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“No one means to drop catches, it’s part of the game, but when you’re playing against the best side in the world, you’ve just got to be a bit better for a bit longer.”

Australia won’t play another Test until India arrive for a blockbuster five-Test series next summer, with attention turning to the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA.