AFTER a poor effort in the one day series, Australia was tipped to cop all it could handle from New Zealand in the two Test Trans Tasman series.
But that could not have been further from the truth in match one, the Australians putting the Kiwis to the slaughter with a disciplined bowling performance and a sublime batting effort that gave them victory by an innings and 52 runs at the Basin Reserve.
New Zealand is now paying $2.80 to win in the second test later this week, while the Aussies are favourites at $1.90 @ Crownbet.com.au.
The green wicket gave captain Steve Smith the perfect reason to send the Kiwis in when he won the toss on day one and his bowlers did not disappoint, snaring seven wickets before they reached triple figures.
They eventually scraped to 183, thanks largely to the efforts of tail ender Mark Craig (41 not out), Corey Anderson (38) and three lusty blows over the fence from Trent Boult (24 at the end).
Josh Hazlewood showed he can be the spearhead, snaring 4/42 for 14 overs, with Peter Siddle grabbing 3/37 and spinner Nathan Lyon continuing his torment of the Kiwis with 3/32 off six overs.
The score never really looked like enough and, even though both openers Joe Burns (0) and David Warner (5) fell cheaply, the Aussie bats blazed a path of destruction, with Smith clubbing 71 and the wonderfully talented Usman Khawaja with yet another ton, 140.
But it was, as it has so often been recently on the Test stage, Adam Voges’ day.
He continued his ownership of the New Zealand bowlers with a peerless 239 which featured 30 boundaries and three sixes and lifted his Test average to a remarkable 97.46 – behind only the great Sir Donald Bradman.
What’s even better is that readers who took our pre-match betting tips for the first test would have got Voges at $6 for most runs.
Siddle chimed in with 49 to inflate the total to an insurmountable 562. Five bowlers took two wickets each for the Kiwis, three of those notching centuries, with Craig copping the most stick, going for 2/153.
New Zealand fared much better in its second dig, but was still never in the hunt, openers Tom Latham (63) and Martin Nuptial (45) putting on 81 for the first wicket, as debutante Henry Nicholls notched 59 and the undismissable Craig with 33 not out.
Tim Southee remarkably lusty late order hitting was perhaps the highlight of the Test for the Kiwis, his 48 coming off just 23 balls and featuring five fours and three sixes.
But 327 was the end score, still well short of making the Australians even contemplate batting again.
Lyon continued to bamboozle them with his superb spin, adding 4/91 to his three wickets in the first innings, while all rounder Mitch Marsh – who is actually beginning to fulfil some of his talent – bagged 3/73.
The win extended Smith’s unbeaten run as captain to 10 games and helped the Aussies close in on the world number one test ranking.
“When you are number one in the world every team you play against is out for you, they are hunting for you,” Smith said.
“It takes a lot of hard work to stay at number one.
“If it does happen … we’ve got a pretty tough series in a couple of months’ time in Sri Lanka.
“Lots of hard work still in us after this series.”
“We’ve got a pretty new side and guys are gelling well together.
”It’s been really satisfying.
“There’s still a lot of improvement left in us but I think we are going in the right direction.”
Captain Brendan McCullum cut a sombre figure after the game and his remarks were quite despondent.
“We were completely outplayed,” McCullum conceded.
“Australia were excellent.
”We’ve always said we’re not afraid of losing but we’re going to try and make it difficult for the opposition to beat us.
“That’s the most disappointing aspect.“
After blasting New Zealand, then the West Indies, then New Zealand again Voges – who was lucky not to be back in the shed on seven when he was clean bowled, only for the umpire to incorrectly call a no ball – is on track to becoming one of the world’s greatest batsmen of all time.
Our mates at Sportsbet.com.au have come up with some prices on Voges’ batting average at the end of his career, and the West Australian is a $16 chance to better Sir Don Bradman’s legendary mark of 99.94 or $1.01 not to.
Currently averaging 97.46, Voges is tipped to finish somewhere between 51-60 according to the market ($3).
The bookie’s Christian Jantzen said an average of 41-50 is the next most likely bracket at $4, “however anything below 30 as an average is the rank outsider at $34.”
“Sir Adam Voges has a nice ring to it but it looks like it’s all downhill from here as far as his average is concerned,” Jantzen said.
The second Test kicks off on Saturday, February 20, but you can still get some decent odds about the Aussies.
We have a new clubhouse leader for top run scorer for the Australians, with the supreme Khawaja ($3.75 with CrownBet.com.au) over taking the usual suspects in Warner and Smith, who are both at $4.
Williamson is still the pics of the Kiwi bats at $3.50, while Latham and Nuptial are on the next line at $5 and Taylor just behind them at $5.50.
The Aussies have a massive injury worry, with Peter Siddle pulling up lame after the first innings and failing to bowl a ball in the second dig as his back seized up.
Smith said he could have bowled in the second innings if he was required, but the Aussies managed to pull out the win without having to use the injured man and he will now have nearly a week to rest before they decide if he is fit to take the pitch at Hagley Oval.
Smith said he expected the Black Caps to hit back hard in the hopes it could see off one of its greats in captain Brendan McCullum, on a high note.
“New Zealand are a very good cricket side,” he said.
Adam Voges markets
Adam Voges’ batting average at end of career
Below 30 ($34)
Will Voges end career with an average higher than Bradman’s 99.94?
*Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
Top run-scorer markets
Usman Khawaja ($3.75)
Steve Smith ($4)
David Warner ($4)
Adam Voges ($5)
Joe Burns ($6)
Shaun Marsh ($7)
Mitchell Marsh ($15)
Peter Nevill ($21)
Peter Siddle ($67)
Josh Hazlewood ($101)
Nathan Lyon ($101)
Jackson Bird ($101)
James Pattinson ($101)
Chadd Sayers ($101)
Kane Richardson ($101)
Kane Williamson ($3.50)
Tom Latham ($5)
Martin Guptill ($5)
Ross Taylor ($5.50)
Henry Nicholls ($7)
Brendon McCullum ($7)
Corey Anderson ($9)
BJ Watling ($9)
Mitchell Santner ($10)
Mark Craig ($26)
Doug Bracewell ($34)
Tim Southee ($81)
Matt Henry ($101)
Trent Boult ($101)
Neil Wagner ($101)
*Odds provided by CrownBet.com.au
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