Australia captain Tim Paine delivered a masterclass in captaincy. It can be easy to see an opponent being uncomfortable and get too aggressive. Instead Paine played the long game, and played it brilliantly.
To be a truly great team requires the ability to overcome situations where everything is stacked against you. New Zealand found themselves in a situation like that in the 1st Test and did not overcome it.
New Zealand were outplayed and Australia deserve credit for being so clinical, but it is important to note the advantages that Australia had in this match.
The pitch at Optus Stadium was one that provided variance in bounce but offered little sideways movement. That's perfect for Australia, but the complete opposite of New Zealand pitches.
The temperature was very hot and there was no wind. New Zealand conditions are generally cool with gusty cross-winds.
The injury on day one to Lockie Ferguson only compounded the troubles. It meant that New Zealand had to rely on part time bowlers to do the work, and it meant that Australia could just play for time and wear New Zealand out.
And that's exactly what they did. Tim Paine delivered a masterclass in captaincy. It can be easy to see an opponent being uncomfortable and get too aggressive. Instead Paine played the long game, and played it brilliantly.
Australia scored less than 250 runs on day one. They had the conditions in their favour, New Zealand were a bowler down, and the pitch was probably at its best for batting, yet Australia only went at 2.78 runs per over. Some of that was good bowling, but a lot of that was Australia playing cautiously.
They knew that every over that they batted would take a little more energy out of the New Zealanders later in the Test. Runs were not as important as time. Australia built two good partnerships, 132 runs between Marcus Labuschagne and Steven Smith that took close to 50 overs and then a 76-run partnership between Labuschagne and Travis Head, that came at a much faster pace off just over 19 overs.
Smith did not look fluent at all, and really struggled with the field and line off attack from New Zealand, and Wagner in particular. He was lucky to survive a good spell of bowling from Lockie Ferguson, and was also troubled at times by Mitchell Santner, but the key battle, and one that will be anticipated for the rest of the series, was between him and Wagner.
Labuschagne, however, looked like he was batting on a different pitch to everyone else. It was as if there was a magnet in the ball and the centre of his bat. He is truly an exciting talent.
There is a theory that 10 hours in the field normally results in two quick wickets. Australia were bowled out a couple of minutes past the 10 hour mark, but in that heat it was probably worth 13 hours.
Wickets fell quickly and even then, once the New Zealand batsmen had shaken the lead from their legs, they were facing the new ball under lights. As the Test wore on, we would see just how difficult a proposition that would be.
New Zealand were probably guilty of playing too aggressively on the second evening, and they also were clearly tired, but tired batsmen still can survive poor bowling. Australia bowled well instead. They had clear plans and all the batsmen except Ross Taylor looked like they were struggling against them.
However, New Zealand still had a chance on Day 3 to stay in the match. Two big partnerships and a score of 350 would have been enough to make this match very difficult for Australia to win. Even batting until tea would have made a big difference.
Instead Australia bowled beautifully and cleaned up the tail. New Zealand had an opportunity, but Australia snatched it away. That was the opportunity that New Zealand had to step up and be a great side. But they were unable to take it.
They caused some issues in the evening session, with aggressive bowling from Southee and Wagner, but by then it was too little too late.
That onslaught from Southee and Wagner will have caused some concerns for the Australian camp. Australian coach Justin Langer admitted that it was exactly the tactics that they were expecting and had been preparing for, but those preparations will need to be revised, as they lost five wickets for the addition of only 29 runs, and the batsmen generally looked to be caught in two minds about how to play.
For New Zealand there are two players in particular who really did not turn up. Mitchell Santner bowled 41 overs without taking a wicket, and without really even creating any pressure. That was on a pitch where Nathan Lyon took 6/111 and Jeet Raval and Marcus Labuschagne both picked up a wicket with their part time leg spin. Santner also only scored a total of two runs, and missed a run out opportunity. As an all round game, it would be hard to be much worse.
Raval is the other headache for the New Zealand selectors. He also scored only two runs, and while he got two very good deliveries, the job of an opener is to be able to diffuse very good deliveries. If he is not able to do that, then it is difficult to see what he is doing in the side.
The positions of Raval and Santner will be under scrutiny, but there is only an obvious replacement for one (Todd Astle is in the squad, and is, like Santner, a spin bowling all rounder) so Raval is likely to still remain in the playing XI.
New Zealand have an important challenge in Melbourne. There will be thousands of kiwi fans making the 4 hour flight across the Tasman Sea to see their team play in a historic match. The last two times New Zealand played Tests at this venue they made Australia fight hard to just hold on for a draw. They will need a much better performance than they provided in Perth if they are going to repeat that.
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