AUSTRALIA wrapped up a 2-0 result in the 2015 Trans-Tasman Trophy on Sunday night in what was undeniably the most enthralling encounter of the series.
The inaugural day-night Test match was a roaring success, with record crowds pouring in over three days to watch the Aussies edge New Zealand in a tense, seesawing affair at the Adelaide Oval.
An uncharacteristically lively wicket produced only 821 runs in total – some 362 fewer than were scored in the first innings alone in the drawn Perth Test.
The new pink ball proved especially conducive to swing and seam movement during the evening sessions, with 14 wickets falling after the dinner break over the course of the match.
While New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum suggested the conditions were a fraction too bowler-friendly, he had no reservations about the future of Test cricket under lights.
“It’s a great concept,” McCullum told the press after the match.
“As pink ball cricket evolves as I am sure it will grow into a global game and I think we will see the pitches probably won’t have quite as much grass on it.
“The thing about day-night Test cricket is it is meant to allow Test match cricket to be played at night time, it is not meant to be to change how Test cricket should play.
“There was a fraction too much grass on it, I think we saw under lights that the pink ball probably responded a little bit much, but I would say that because I am a batter.
“Overall it was a roaring success and 120,000 people over three days, people are voting with their feet and I think it’s here to stay, which is great.”
Those sentiments were echoed by McCullum’s opposite number, Steven Smith.
“The whole Test match was a great innovation, it was a great spectacle,” the Australian skipper said.
“To get 120,000 people through the gates in three days is absolutely amazing. I thought it was a great spectacle and a great Test match.
Smith was less critical of the swinging conditions, however, insisting there were runs to be had for those who buckled down and capitalise on solid starts.
He continued: “It was a game that was dominated by the bowlers. New Zealand’s bowlers bowled just as well as ours.
“But it was one of those games – if you got yourself in you could still score runs, it just wasn’t to be this game for a lot of the batters, we got starts and couldn’t go on with it.
“I think the contest is there if you’re willing to have a game plan and bat some time you can certainly score runs.”
The only downside of an otherwise superb debut for day-night Tests came courtesy of another recent and much-discussed innovation in international cricket.
The decision review system lost quite a few admirers during Australia’s first dig when the third umpire, Nigel Llong, ruled Nathan Lyon not out despite HotSpot showing clear indications of a top edge to the slips off Mitchell Santner’s bowling.
To make matters worse, Lyon – who walked towards the dressing rooms after viewing the DRS’s findings – and wicketkeeper Peter Nevill went on to give the hosts an unlikely first innings lead with a match-high partnership of 74.
Ross Taylor summed up the Black Caps’ feelings on the matter when he addressed the media after the close of play on day two.
“The players were pretty confident it was out, the HotSpot showed up, Lyon walking off and getting to the boundary – I think it’s had a big bearing on the match,” he said.
Regarding the third umpire’s reasoning behind the decision, Taylor added: “You’ve got to ask Nigel that.
“That was one of the discussions the boys did talk about in the change room, we can understand when umpires make the wrong decision on the field, but once you’ve got so many different angles and what not, you think that more often than not, 99 to 100 per cent of the time you’re going to get the right answer.
“But I guess we didn’t today.”
Third Test betting results
After missing the mark in the second Test, we rediscovered our tipping mojo for the third and final bout of the series.
Our predictions for the major match markets were all spot on: Australia won the Test and scored less than 435.5 runs in the first innings, while New Zealand edged home by a single run for the best opening stand (with a princely sum of seven, it must be said).
We also saluted with Doug Bracewell, who snared three wickets for 18 to top NZ’s bowling figures in the first dig.
And we weren’t far off picking Australia’s top runscorer either, but Peter Nevill’s 66 put him just ahead of our man Steve Smith (53).
Many will have overlooked Josh Hazlewood amid rumours he would be rested for Adelaide, but those who had him for man of the match will be delighted after the big seamer bagged a career-best six for 70 in the second innings.
Australia – $1.66
First innings lead
Australia – $1.53
Highest opening partnership (first innings)
New Zealand – $2.37
Top team batsmen (first innings)
Tom Latham – $5.50
Peter Nevill – $17
Top team bowlers (first innings)
Mitchell Starc – $2.87
Doug Bracewell – $5
First wicket method
LBW – $5.50
Fall of first wicket
Under – $1.90
A hundred to be scored?
No – $8
Man of the match
Josh Hazlewood – $17
Odds provided by www.Bet365.com
Australia vs. West Indies series odds
Australia – $1.03 (CrownBet.com)
West Indies – $34 (Sportsbet.com)
Draw – $21 (Luxbet.com)
Next up for the Aussies are the West Indies, who will have a hit-out against the Cricket Australia XI this week in preparation for the first Test in Hobart (December 10-14).
Online bookmakers have no faith whatsoever in the Windies – and understandably so, given they are now ranked eighth out of 10 teams in the ICC Test standings and haven’t won a series against Australia since 1993.
The Baggy Greens won 2-0 in very easy fashion in the Caribbean earlier this year, while WI come in on the back of another straight-sets series defeat in Sri Lanka.
It remains to be seen whether there is any improvement under the guidance of Phil Simmons, who was recently reinstated as West Indies head coach after a largely successful spell in charge of Ireland.
Sportsbet.com has Darren Bravo ($3.75), Marlon Samuels ($4.33) and opener Kraigg Braithwaite ($4.50) pegged as the most likely to top the visitors’ runscoring charts for the three-match series, while Jerome Taylor ($3.50) and Kemar Roach ($3.75) are the danger men with the ball.
2015-16 Frank Worrell Trophy fixtures:
First Test – December 10-14 at Blundstone Arena, Hobart
Second Test – December 26-30 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Third Test – January 3-7 at the Sydney Cricket Ground
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