Thursday, December 29, 2011

For a man known by his teammates as Gentle Ben, due to a genial personality, Ben Hilfenhaus introduced himself to day three of the Boxing Day test more in the light of Tasmanian devil.

With the Indians only three wickets down and behind by a mere 119 on Australia’s first innings total of 333, the collective might of Dravid-Laxman-Dhoni on the prowl for innings of substance in India’s exploration of a sizeable lead, the hosts required a porous force to strike with haste.

Just as posteriors were connecting with seats...BOOM... Hilfenhaus knocked over Dravid’s off-stump with a cracking delivery. That it would be nigh on unplayable to a batsman of “the wall’s” ability ten over’s into play was without doubt. But on the second ball of the first over...impossible.

The twenty-eight year old had struck the vital blow his side desired. Fast on the heels of Peter Siddle picking up the prized scalp of Sachin Tendulkar late on the second day, Hilfenhaus had turned the contest on its head.

Tasmanian Devils don’t mind the heat. They’re certainly ferocious little devils with a keen sense of smell when a feeding frenzy is on the cards.

Hilfenhaus could sense the opportunity to go in for the kill. No sooner had he procured the departure of Dravid, than he had the wickets of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and night- watchman, Ishant Sharma.

That he ended with 5 for 75 was impressive. Not only was his a commanding performance, it was more so for the manner of his fight back after being dropped for a disappointing Ashes series, last summer.

Each of his wickets against the English had cost fifty-nine runs. This, of course, is unacceptable at test level.

But he has fought back. Here he was, producing the finest of bowling spells, putting the cherry on a dime with the sweetest of lengths, and the most sinister of lines.

And if he continues in this vein, no one will be messing with the devil, that is for sure.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sometimes the last step in a long anticipated goal can be the hardest to obtain.

Just ask Sachin Tendulkar. Having scored ninety-nine test and one day hundreds, the great man has been so close now to becoming the first to the magical mark of one hundred hundreds.

No one else has got close. But that’s not surprising really. If it has become so challenging for a player rated as the second best batsman of all-time, then what hope do the rest have?

All that hard graft since he debuted in 1989 at the tender age of sixteen. Perspiration lost over many hours of toiling away on the cricketing arenas of the world. The man known as the little master deserves nothing more than to achieve something that mere mortals can only dream about.

Through it all, Tendulkar, who is an idol in his homeland of India, has had to deal with the suffocating attentions of a cricketing mad nation. Much like the coming of an unwanted and unloved season, pressure has presented itself regardless of whether wanted or not.

Not one to complain, the little Indian master blaster simply accepted his lot in life and continued on his merry way as he confidently strode into the annals of history as one of the true greats of the game.

It’s not like the good doesn’t outweigh the bad for him, though. A career that has allowed him to accrue a very healthy living financially, the chance to peruse a goodly sample of the planet whilst playing the game he loves. Yep, life is good.

And all with what appears to be a very sensible head on his shoulders.

This, of course, means that the art of the meltdown has never happened across the countenance of one of the games true gentlemen. Being a superstar, Tendulkar could have easily let fame and fortune go to his head.

But he didn’t. Instead, he contented himself with going about the highly entertaining (for him) task of plundering whichever bowling attack that was unlucky enough to come across the attentions of his fearsome talent at the time.

Despite all the carnage and destruction that he was often responsible for, Tendulkar has never forgotten that he is just another man on the street. Yes, a mightily talented one, but, all the same, one that in the end is just like the rest of us.

And that humility has made him what he is today. Genuine modesty has allowed him to keep aspiring to new heights. He has never forgotten that improvement welcomes us all into its heart, no matter the level of success one has attained.

The respect that he has garnered over time was there for all to witness as he entered the fray at the MCG today. The roar was deafening. There were the Indian fans in the crowd. Then there was a partisan Australian crowd. Yet one and all cheered the legend that is Sachin Tendulkar. It wasn’t just those at the ground, though. There were the millions of fans around the world with eyes only for Tendulkar, watching, waiting; ready to witness what they hoped would be that one hundredth hundred.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be this time. On 73, and looking comfortable, Peter Siddle got the little master with a goodun. Cleaned bowled with a ball that jagged back off the seam.

Even the best are not invincible, as we all found out today. But Tendulkar has built up copious amounts of goodwill over his tenure as this generation’s greatest batsmen.

And there will be no more deserving in the minds of fans when he finally scores that long awaited century.

It simply couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.

Monday, December 26, 2011

If patience is a virtue, then Ed Cowan has cornered the market in honourable behaviour.

Not one to rush things, the transplanted Tasmanian was more than content to occupy the crease. So delighted was he to be making his debut against the Indians in the Boxing Day test that he monopolized one end for two hundred and eighty-eight minutes as he top scored with an excellent sixty-eight.

To his teammates it mattered not that Cowan scored a piffling fifteen runs in the opening session. He was doing his job, which is to take the shine off the new ball, and tire the new ball bowlers out. Not to mention getting through the first two hours with his wicket intact.

That the twenty-nine year old decided the appropriate way to do this was by boring the opposition into submission was neither here nor there. Within the laws of the game, a competitor must do what is required of him for the betterment of his side. It is not for any player to concern himself with the perceptions of outsiders. It was his team that counted. All for one and one for all. He was certainly doing his bit for the other ten.

Cowan was selfless in his approach.

It was an intelligent approach from the privately schooled left-hander who has waited so long for an opportunity. He wasn’t about to squander his long awaited chance to make it in the big time. And maybe he has benefitted from the wait. That Cowan played like a seasoned pro from the get-go was a splendid advertisement for debuting at a more ripened age.

It allowed him to settle back while opening partner David Warner was blasting away at the other end. Meanwhile, the former Sydneysider was content to let ball after ball pass by through to the keeper. He played only at the absolute necessary. This is what an old fashioned opener does.

Australia has a dasher at one end and a plodder at the other. They may have found the ideal opening partnership.

It’s not that the newbie can’t play scintillating shots when the moment takes him. Once he opened his shoulders in the second session, the honour of his foe was impugned on more than one occasion as a number of glorious cover drives were sent slithering their way across the grassy expanses of MCG in search of the enticing rewards often found gathering in the vicinity of the boundary rope. No added seasoning was required. They were as tasteful as can be.

Cowan appears to be one of those players that belong at this level, with the baggy green cap cutting the perfect fit.

And with a first up effort like this, Ed Cowan is a name we are all going to be hearing a lot more of over the next few years.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Here are a few thoughts on the just completed series between Australia and New Zealand.


Australian cricket has now reached a critical juncture. They could go east, they could go west, sampling the delights to be had as they travel either of these exotic routes dominated by talented youth whose best years lie ahead, or they can keep going straight along the road to oblivion.

Decisions are required post haste.

At some stage there surely must come a time when tough choices have to be made. Older players whose best years have regrettably passed them by must be moved aside to allow for the regeneration of a team that is now at its nadir.

Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey are two whose places are at risk – or should be. The talent is available. Names such as Warner, Marsh, Watson, and Khawaja and, of course, Clarke.

A youthful line-up of bowlers is in place. Come the Ashes in 2013 they will be firing on all cylinders. The shame of it is that they may not have adequate back-up in the batting department.

Inertia cannot be allowed to rivet its way into the heart and soul of the baggy green on a permanent basis. Depth in the game is at a premium, and is suffering more so for the demise of Australia.

Cricket needs a strong Australian side. They are currently in a stand-off with the affects of age.

For at the present time, there is a big Mac hurtling their way, with both the accelerator jammed and the brake cable broken. They must act fast or they will end up a cricketing corpse searching for the abode of the dead.

Only time will tell if they can avert the current crisis. Tick-tock, tick-tock...

Ricky Ponting

There is as much chance of any self-respecting music buff admitting to liking Abba as there is of Ponting welcoming in a new age of batting greatness on his part. At thirty-seven years of age, time has finally caught up with the Tasmanian. Quite simply, he is no longer the great batsman he once was.

It pays to remember that talent is not infinite. Father time does eventually catch up with us all. Some hold it at bay longer than others, and Ponting has been fortunate on this count. But it is obvious for all to see that Ponting is no longer seeing the ball as early as he once did and time has passed him by.

No true fan of Cricket could take any satisfaction in seeing the sad sight of a once great batsman struggling on despite his abilities being on the wane.

So please no more of this. If Ponting won’t let go, the Australian selectors must see the light, do him a favour and put an end to the madness. There is no enjoyment for any of us in witnessing the downfall of one of the greatest batsmen of all time.

New Zealand

Potential. It’s a word that ends after nine letters. And that’s the thing about potential, there comes a time when the excuse of having potential can no longer be used as a justification for sub-standard performances and one has to start generating performances that are at the very least close to what their true ability is. That is the Black Caps for you. Full of potential, but rarely do they play to that capacity.

Their performance at Bellereve Oval was one of the rare times they went past potential into the realm of genuine talent.

So if they could do it there, why not more regularly? It is not like they lack talent. They have a top six that are all capable of being world class performers. The majority have been around for long enough that they should now be operating at, or close to, the optimum of their abilities.

Simply, there is no excuse for the batsmen. They are seasoned and are capable of averaging in the forties. Admittedly the Hobart pitch was the batsmen’s equivalent of a horror movie. But New Zealand also failed to bat to a high level at the Gabba, too.

The irony of this team is that the bowlers are the inexperienced component of this side, yet are the best performed and most consistent.

It’s time for potential to end and performance to begin.


The decision review system. Despise it, hate it, loathe it - don’t talk to me about it. Well, that’s the attitude of India. Fortunately, though, the good majority of the world’s cricket family are all for it. After all, anything that can assist umpires to make the correct decision has got to be a good thing. With the DRS now in place, ninety-five percent of decisions are correct. This in turn has taken much of the dissent towards umpires that previously existed out of the game.

So all is good in the world of the DRS? Well, almost. You see, with Australia nine down in their heart stopping chase for victory on Monday - and the Black Caps pushing hard for the one remaining wicket needed to secure victory - twice the Kiwi’s appealed for LBW. Both times the umpire raised the dreaded finger to send the batsman on his way. Wild celebrations would normally be the order of the day at this stage. But, of course, Australia challenged the decision. Both times it was overturned. So the right decision was attained. That’s the good bit. The bad is that it can take away from the spontaneity of the moment. Sport is about more than just winning and losing. It is also about the emotions that come with winning and losing. And the DRS potentially takes that side of the game away.

A minor quibble, admittedly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Isn’t it amazing how responsibility can bring out the best in some?

Take New Zealand Captain, Ross Taylor, for example. Having - like his teammates - proceeded to bat in the most irresponsible manner imaginable at the Gabba, he succeeded in submerging his Mr Hyde to the deeper, darker realms of his psyche as he reconnected to the Dr Jekyll within him while he led from the front in his side’s efforts to graft out a meaningful target to set the Australians at Bellerive Oval.

Fifty-six runs to the good, and he had gone a long way in his quest on that score. Many would point out that he didn’t go on with the job and acquire a century, but in the context of the match it may well have been the equivalent. That he had accumulated the highest individual score of either side, should not go without mention.

On a pitch that mustered the harshest of disdain for any batsman who dared approach its hallowed turf, Taylor was a model of discretion as Australia’s speedsters flung all they had at him. For 169 balls he displayed the utmost of restraint as he decided discretion was the better part of valour. Time and again Peter Siddle and his sidekicks, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson, would tempt Taylor with deliveries just to the east of off stump. Every time Taylor would let the kookaburra saunter on through to the wicketkeeper unmolested.

For so long Taylor held the quickies out.

So why all of a sudden was it within him to do so? If he can achieve this when the pressure cooker is suddenly turned up to searing, why not all the time?

Sure, the current crop may not be up there with the great Australian attacks of all time, but nonetheless these are still good bowlers.

Combine this with a pitch that has an attitude which is unhelpful at best, and his efforts become even more meritorious.

Perhaps his performances are symptomatic of a team that has struggled for several years now, without a John Wright around to rein in the haphazard approach that many of them seem to employ. That the rest of the top five play the in similar spirit suggests that they have not been held to account.

Now is the time for Taylor, as Captain, to lead from the front, not once but on each and every occasion, with his performance today as the benchmark for what must be expected of him henceforth.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Trent Boult. Now there’s a name that not many would have been familiar with before the start of the second test.

Not anymore, though.

Thrown in the deep end - after Daniel Vettori withdrew with a hamstring injury - Boult embraced the opportunity to make his test debut for New Zealand on a Bellerive Oval wicket so green it resembled a batsmen’s death walk to the gallows of insignificance.

Fair it was to assume that the debutant would be laden with nerves. Up against the might of Ponting, Clarke and Hussey, who could blame him if he was? After all, this was Australia he was facing, not a minnow such as Zimbabwe.

To make matters worse, he and his fellow bowling fiends had to contend with a wicket that was a flinger’s paradise. Not a bad thing, you may say. But sometimes when conditions prevail so much to one’s benefit, it becomes harder to control the ball when it is seaming prodigiously and swinging wildly. There comes an intoxicating surge of temptation over the bowler to try too much, instead of putting the ball on a good length and letting the conditions work their magic.

If he was suffering though, he certainly didn’t display any obvious signs of anxiety. A mature head on young shoulders then, as he handled the situation with the utmost aplomb.

Rarely was there a poor delivery to be seen from the left arm slinger. The consistency of good line and length just outside off stump had plastered itself within the thought processes of Boult. Patience became him, as he resisted the urge to go for the glory ball each time he ran in. And that patience brought him his just rewards as he snared the wicket of none other than Mr Cricket himself, Mike Hussey.

Bowlers of class take wickets no matter the calibre of their foe. So, just as Boult showed himself capable of eliminating a world beating talent in the form of Hussey, he also set about helping his teammates by removing the Australian lower order. That he did too, as he sent James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc back to the pavilion in quick succession.

After thirteen over’s for a return of 3 for 29, that he is a fine talent in the making seems to be beyond question. With Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell, he could form a potent bowling armoury that could serve New Zealand well for many a year to come.

The only issue now is just how much does Boult want it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Some days it simply isn’t your time to shine.

Just when you think your best intentions are going to bring you great reward, your day’s work gets cut short by some young upstart of a bowler who gives you a sterner than wished for examination of your abilities.

Take New Zealand test opener, Brendon McCullum. Mightily talented, but much maligned of late, he's been on the receiving end of the harshest of criticisms for his performance during the first test at the Gabba. Here he was at Hobart, hunkering down, intent on demonstrating to all and sundry that he could curb his natural proclivity to blaze the day away with the most daring shotmaking his imagination could conjure up.

And he was succeeding too.

At least until James Pattinson - who was in the middle of garnering his second five wicket haul in only his second test – came along with a ball that was so sinister of intent, and psychopathic in nature, that McCullum’s hopes of a long and industrious stay at the crease were stymied by the latest of swing. So demented was its demeanour, as it knicked the edge of McCullum’s willow, that it could not but help facetiously laugh in the visage of the batsman as it derided its victim with the perfect line and the perfect length.

That it was a cracking delivery cannot be denied. McCullum had been scuppered for a measly sixteen runs. Ninety-eight minutes of stoic resistance in tandem with Kane Williamson had come to nothing.

At 3 for25, the duo had battled hard in a dire situation and he was dirty with himself. But he need not have been. There are simply occasions when one has to admit that the bowler has genuinely won the battle with a delivery that was too good.

It was clear too, that he was attempting to change his ways to better suit the needs of the test side. That is to be admired.

This time, though, the young buck had got one over the grizzled old veteran

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It is said that variety is the spice of life. Many would agree. And it can only be assumed that the sum total of the New Zealand cricket team would concur. After all, they are not ones to embrace consistency. Never mind the thought of the dependable with this lot; it’s hard enough for them to maintain their structure on a day to day basis, let alone from match to match.

Why compete at a level near their best, with a regular diet of excellence, when they have the opportunity to sample the diverse aromas that Cricket’s form pendulum has to offer? You know, trying delights such as a batting collapse more through poor shot selection as much as it was good bowling on the part of the Australians.

And attempt this the Black Caps most certainly did.

Never let it be said that this mob don’t have talents in life. As sure as day precedes night, you can be certain that there is a penchant within the minds of the New Zealand top order for them to excel at the inordinately large mission of being bowled out for 150 on what was still a good wicket for batting. Worst of all, you just know with these guys, that as sure as night precedes day, they are just as likely to turn around and win the second test. Well, possibly. Maybe.

Freud once proffered that “there are no accidents”. It seems that when he offered the world these words of wisdom, he did not envisage the Black Caps batting effort at the Gabba on day four. After the irresponsible methods of dismissal that they conjured up in the first innings, there was little hope that they were going to resemble anything other than a train wreck in waiting as their second innings approached. Sure enough, the inevitable occurred.

Openers have a number of functions that are required of them to perform. One being to take the shine off the new ball, which in turn tires dangerous opening bowlers out, ergo, allowing those of an attacking bent further down the order to prosper once the ball is no longer doing as much off the pitch. Another is the ability to anchor an innings, preferably batting through for the entirety.

This seems to have escaped the attention of Brendon McCullum. Yes, he sure gives it a mighty go at whacking the kookaburra to all parts of the park. Problem is though, he more often than not achieves this for a limited time span, then the inevitable occurs and he holes out to an unnecessary shot. His 34 in the first innings was an obvious example of this. Some great play on his part, only to undo all the good work with a reckless shot. There is a fine line between reckless and positive. He rarely comes out of the right side of this particular ledger.

He’s not the only one though. Jesse Ryder, who had compiled 36, then inexplicably attempted to loft Nathan Lyon over mid-off. The time or the place, it was not.

With wickets regularly sold on the cheap, there is a perception that some of the team do not hold playing for their country in especially high regard. As much as they may detest the insinuations of a fed-up cricketing public, those impressions will stay with avid followers for as long as such talented batsmen as McCullum, Ryder, Ross Taylor and the like keep giving their wicket away, without appearing to want to fight to the death.

Let it be said that Daniel Vettori and Dean Brownlie did themselves proud. Both fought for the cause, using every ounce of their abilities that they could muster. Not for either to back down. Indeed, they took it to the Australians in a manner that their more talented top order could learn from. Bad balls were put away. Good deliveries were treated with the utmost respect. Theirs was a simple strategy of playing each ball on its merits. That Brownlie averaged 119 and Vettori 56.5 for the match was a glowing endorsement for the virtues of simplicity.

They weren’t the only positives, thankfully. There was the twenty-one year old Doug Bracewell. Perfect he wasn’t. For sure, he’s raw. Errors were committed. There was the talk pre-match, on his part, of intimidating the Australians. If one is to achieve this, one must first have the ability to do so. At this stage of his fledgling career, Bracewell does not. With experience will come the realisation that there is never an ideal occasion to talk big. One of the golden tenets of sports psychology is this: always, always, go out of one’s way to claim underdog status. Feel free to talk the opposition up. Never mind if you are indeed the favourite, it never hurts to put as much pressure as is possible on the opposition.

Let us remember, too, that true greats have no need for talk. For them, actions speak louder than words. A fair bet that Bradman had limited use for words as his bat took great delight in waxing lyrical on many an occasion.

The wicket no- ball to Michael Clarke was of vital importance. Clarke - who was on 23 at the time - went on to score 146. That extra 123 runs was virtually the difference between the two sides after each had batted. Not that it should be held against Bracewell. He is young, he will learn. And, after all, the batsmen hardly excelled themselves during their first innings. With self-control, those extra runs were there for the taking.

His spell early in the seventh session of the match was inhabited by a barrage of short pitched deliveries. At mid 130’s pace, he simply is not quick enough to bounce batsmen out. Profit, he would, with balls that were tossed up, allowing swing to make its menacing presence felt. Eventually the penny did drop as stability of mind settled in for the better and Bracewell showed just what he could generate.

He's a find. Now the hard work begins for him.

Swing bowling fit for the highest echelon became the order of the day as Bracewell showed just what potential he possesses. Deliveries frequented that famed corridor of uncertainty. Clarke, who had been assuredly going about his business, was now being introduced to doubt despite having procured himself a half century. Bracewell had found some consistency- for a short time, at least.

If only New Zealand’s batsmen could discover a vista of steadiness.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When is a test match not a test match but still a test match?

The likely answer to this is with a prominent sprinkling of New Zealand batsmen in the vicinity of a test pitch more often than not embracing an effervescent flame of flamboyance from within that would be better suited to the 20/20 game as they hazily try to grasp the unique concept of positive stroke play mixed with the unnatural urges of displaying the unrecognised restraint that is required in the test match arena.

Having won the toss and thus electing to bat first, the Black Caps set about burning rubber in their haste to pile on the runs against Australia in the first test at the Gabba in Brisbane.

The first four sessions have been mightily enthralling. A battle of wills between bat and ball has been there for keen observers to witness. No sooner had bat dominated ball than the latter would retaliate in kind.

These may not be two of the greatest sides to grace the cricketing turfs of the world. Despite this though, there is still a healthy smattering of talent amongst the combatants. Take Ricky Ponting for example. The towering inferno that is his batting talent often took a scorched earth policy towards some of the best bowling attacks of recent times and he is recognised as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, but now may be not more than a mere flickering compared to his pomp early in the noughties. He still packs a pretty handy punch though. His career on the line, the Tasmanian is not one to lie down and surrender. Punter is a fighter and it showed as his form was on the money with a solid 67 not out by the end of the second day’s play.

The New Zealander’s - who had dominated Australia A earlier in the week – professed their confidence pre-game. Talk was big on their part. Was it over-confidence? Or was it secretly a lack of it? After all, skin is only a covering that conceals the veins of fear and insecurity in us all. They – like most of us – would never admit it. But surely eleven New Zealand cricketers can be no different.

That they came out with all guns blazing suggested the former to be the case. Three of the Australian eleven were part of the A-side that was left flummoxed as to what was the ideal way to dismiss the New Zealander’s in the warm-up encounter. Maybe the Kiwi’s thought it was going to be all so easy once again.

It looked like it was heading the same way early on too, as Brendon McCullum took more than just a passing fancy to the Australian quick’s. Until one flourish too many was his undoing on thirty-four. A collapse and momentum shift was to see the Black Caps floundering at 96 for 5.

This just goes to show that no one has an automatic right to partake in high levels of self-confidence without first earning it. If you wish to acquire confidence, it pays to achieve something worthy of said confidence’s recognition. And the only way to do so is through dedication and tireless hard work that brings about success. That success will then bring about true confidence.

One player that does appear to believe in his abilities is Daniel Vettori. The past three years has seen the former captain average forty-two. Certainly it cannot be said of the lefthander that he is one of the game’s more eloquent to take on a bowling attack. That the writer of the batsmen’s guide to technically correct batting would not be at all amused upon witnessing Vettori’s batting countenance goes without saying.

But the thing is it works for Vettori. Some of his teammates higher up the order would do well to ape his approach to the game. An intelligent player, Vettori has worked out what is required for him to succeed regardless of the fact that he is far from the most talented batsman. His strengths and weaknesses have met his acquaintance with his fertile mind embracing them and delivering viable options to work within his limitations.

This he displayed on his travels towards a mightily well compiled ninety-six. There were no flowing cover drives. No classical follow through – he is the master of the jab shot. Be it a pull, a drive, a hook, it is achieved with a short arm jabbing motion.

Masterful as his innings was, it wasn’t without flaw. How could it be? For, he did get out. Only four away from what would have and should have been his first test century against Australia, he threw it all away in a bizarre mode. Having accumulated ten off the previous five balls of the over, Vettori had, what is for him, a rare case of brain fade. A drive straight to the waiting hands of Mike Hussey at mid off, Vettori took off for what was a suicidal single. No good was ever going to come of it. And yep, you guessed it; nothing did as Hussey skittled the stumps with Vettori a metre short.

Seemingly, even those of normally serene disposition in the heat of battle are not immune to the effects of pressure. This most erudite of brain had momentarily suffered a total eclipse of the mind as a rush of blood to the head squandered a golden opportunity to introduce himself to his seventh century. Alas, it had all but faded away into obscurity.

With Vettori’s demise came the beginning of the end. Yes, Dean Brownlie – who had partnered Vettori in a 158 run partnership – held out for an unbeaten 77 as he soldiered on with the help of the lower order to accumulate a further forty-one runs to leave his side all out for 295.

Nevertheless, once Vettori had departed, it was the bowlers who were back on top. A quick ending it may have been, but with the exception of the always excellent Peter Siddle, the Australian attack was a mixed bag. With teenage sensation Pat Cummins and Mitchell Johnson out with injury, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson were handed test debuts. Starc was the epitome of inconsistency. Mightily good early in the innings against McCullum, he had his foe on the turf on occasions with well placed bouncers. At 6ft6in and letting rip in the 140kph’s, Starc offers potentially devilish problems for the batsmen. Pace and bounce are not an easy duo to combat, that's to be sure. On the flip side, he was unable to remove Chris Martin from the crease. Martin, who is without doubt the biggest batting bunny in world cricket, had no business holding off the attentions of Starc’s bowling armoury for two over’s. Starc, though, bowled wide failing to make Martin play, and didn’t remotely bother to pitch the ball up to Martin. That’s inexperience for you though. It invites inconsistency to compromise your form.

Ah, the vagaries of youth.