Australia v New Zealand - 1st Test: Day 3
Australia v New Zealand - 1st Test: Day 3

New Zealand... do you know what you’ve started?

It's one thing to start a war. It's another thing to finish it.

England's Bodyline enforcer Harold Larwood did both in the summer of 1932-33 when he brought down Australia by trimming Don Bradman's average to manageable levels with sustained short pitched bowling.

But the difference was Larwood was bowling in the 145kph-plus range against batsmen without helmets while New Zealand's hearty seam attack, willing though they are, chug along in the friendlier 125-133kph range.

 

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New Zealand’s short-ball barrage had Australia’s batsmen, including Marnus Labuschagne, ducking for cover. Picture: Getty
New Zealand’s short-ball barrage had Australia’s batsmen, including Marnus Labuschagne, ducking for cover. Picture: Getty

Tim Paine's unprovoked claim that his team was expecting Bodyline tactics for the rest of the series was essentially a dare to New Zealand.

Paine was effectively saying "if you want to try and rattle our ribs in Melbourne go your hardest boys'' on a deck which over recent seasons has been mistaken for a steamrolled pancake.

Paine was speaking in the knowledge that Australia has the firepower to cover every eventuality.

His big guns of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and the maverick James Pattinson can rumble into the late 140kphs and dish up their own brand of bouncer barrages.

 

 

Mitchell Starc is more than capable of delivering some terrifying bouncers of his own. Picture: AAP
Mitchell Starc is more than capable of delivering some terrifying bouncers of his own. Picture: AAP

But Australia must be careful not be to lured into playing someone else's game. This attack is at it's best when it has a high percentage of balls hitting the off-stump not whistling over it.

It's easy to say Australia have a conspicuous pace edge on Wagner but he has made an art form of into-the-ribs bowling.

Unlike many of the craft's tallest timber, whose bouncers often trampoline their way out of harm's way, Wagner's skidding short ball, as Matthew Wade found out, is often a dangerously accurate chest seeking missile.

The Australians deeply admire everything about him … his relentless spirit, his goading of batsmen and simply the quality of his work.

Wagner will harass Steve Smith again with short pitched bowling and the pressure on Smith will be immense because if there's one thing every Test batsman hates it is falling to a trap which is so obvious a six-year-old watching from the couch at home can tell what it is.

The Bodyline reference against the Kiwis was in some ways quite humorous because they are such a friendly team it was a bit like calling Snow White a prima donna.

Certainly the affable Kane Williamson is no reincarnation of contrary English captain Douglas Jardine.

 

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (C) talks with Australian’s Mitchell Starc (left) and David Warner. Picture: AAP
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (C) talks with Australian’s Mitchell Starc (left) and David Warner. Picture: AAP

Williamson was, as always, full of poise and grace after losing the Test, a far cry from Jardine when he visited Perth during the Bodyline series and was asked by Australian journalist if he could release the England team list early for their eastern states deadlines.

"Honestly, I could not give a shit about eastern states deadlines,'' he said before refusing the request, spinning on his heel and walking off.

News Corp Australia


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