A Queensland storm put the ailing New Zealand bowlers out of their misery but they’ll need more than rain to save them in this first cricket test against Australia.
It bordered on embarrassing late on day three as Australia’s batsmen swung for fun, the field scattered and it left the prospect of only one winner.
Australia’s openers David Warner (129) and Joe Burns (116) each clouted centuries in a stand of 237 as they helped themselves to some cafeteria offerings. At stumps the hosts were 264-4 after Mark Craig spun three quick wickets, and still led by a mammoth 503 with two days to play. It’s been a brutal welcome to Australia for a series that looked evenly poised but is becoming one-way traffic.
It means the Black Caps will probably need to bat five sessions to save it, an outer space target of 600-plus beckoning. They’ll hope for weather assistance, too, with more storms forecast.
Unless there’s significant improvement in technique and temperament from the batsmen to back up the peerless Kane Williamson, who plundered 140, then they’ll fly to Perth on Tuesday 1-0 down in the three-match series. Senior men Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum will hold the key after jittery first innings efforts off minimal match-play.
Also down is senior paceman Tim Southee who swung the willow for 14 in New Zealand’s total of 317, but didn’t return to bowl. He remains with the team, nursing an irritated disc in his spine, and will bat in the second innings. “We’ll continue to monitor his back and wait to see how he progresses in the coming days,” coach Mike Hesson said of his future tour prospects.
Without him they were cannon fodder when Australia’s skipper Steve Smith didn’t enforce the follow-on despite leading by 239 on the first innings. He wisely kept his bowlers on ice in the heat while the tourists fried.
The Black Caps’ bowling has been their strength but they were bereft on this excellent batting surface, sounding major alarm bells for Perth and Adelaide. Neil Wagner is jetting over as cover for Southee but he is more of the same, an honest toiler at 130kmh in comparison to Australia’s two world class Mitchells, Starc and Johnson, who whipped it through at 145kmh, sparked the Friday collapse and collected seven wickets between them despite Williamson’s imperious knock.
Worryingly, Trent Boult was down on pace and went for 44 off his first six overs. He’ll need to lead the attack, and find his groove in a hurry as he returns to match-fitness from three months off with a stress injury in his back.
Doug Bracewell was better but Jimmy Neesham and Craig took some stick again. Neesham’s test return has been a nightmare as he struggled for consistency and went for 61 off nine. Skipper Brendon McCullum at one point put his hands on Neesham’s shoulders in sympathy and checked if all was well. Burns hit Craig for consecutive sixes over long off to raise his maiden century off 102 balls in his home ground.
Williamson’s 11th test century shone like a beacon in the gloom for New Zealand, a 178-ball special with 24 boundaries after the Friday collapse of 4-16 that hurled the Black Caps to the ropes.
The 25-year-old from Tauranga emerged swinging and was in complete control as wickets tumbled. When he pushed Johnson in front of square and scurried back for two, just before lunch, it was his eighth test century overseas and left Zimbabwe as the only test-playing nation he hasn’t scored three figures against.
This was his fifth test innings against Australia; his previous highest 34 on the 2011 tour.
There was some application from the New Zealand lower order but no-one could stay with Williamson for the long haul. BJ Watling hung around for 32 before nibbling at Johnson, and after the first five wickets added 118 the last five put on 199.
Williamson cruised onwards with his array of shots. He sent Johnson to the boundary in consecutive deliveries with an exquisite cut and cover drive, before nudging the two that got him to a century. It was his sixth international ton this year; with three in ODI cricket and his two others in tests against Sri Lanka in Wellington and England at Lord’s.
He eventually had to farm the strike as the tailenders came and went, before a big drive at a Starc inswinger saw him last man out after he batted three minutes short of five hours.
Stumps on day three of the first test at the Gabba in Brisbane:
First innings 556-4 dec
J Burns c Taylor b Craig 129
D Warner c Boult b Craig 116
U Khawaja not out 9
S Smith c Williamson b Boult 1
M Marsh c McCullum b Craig 2
A Voges not out 1
Extras (lb 1, wd 1, nb 4) 6
Total (for 4 wickets, 42 overs) 264
Fall: 237 (Warner), 254 (Burns), 258 (Smith), 263 (Marsh).
Bowling: T Boult 8-0-61-1, D Bracewell 11-1-63-0 (4nb), J Neesham 9-0-61-0 (1w), M Craig 14-0-78-3.
First innings (157-5 overnight)
M Guptill c Warner b Hazlewood 23
T Latham c Lyon b Starc 47
K Williamson c Nevill b Starc 140
R Taylor c Smith b Johnson 0
B McCullum c Voges b Johnson 6
J Neesham b Starc 3
B Watling c Nevill b Johnson 32
M Craig c Marsh b Lyon 24
D Bracewell b Marsh 16
T Southee b Starc 14
T Boult not out 0
Extras (lb 4, wd 1, nb 7) 12
Total (82.2 overs) 317
Fall: 56 (Guptill), 102 (Latham), 105 (Taylor), 114 (McCullum), 118 (Neesham), 185 (Watling), 231 (Craig), 273 (Bracewell), 310 (Southee), 317 (Williamson).
Bowling: M Starc 17.2-4-57-4 (1w, 2nb), M Johnson 21-3-105-3 (1nb), J Hazlewood 21-5-70-1 (1nb), N Lyon 17-3-46-1, M Marsh 5-0-32-1 (3nb), A Voges 1-0-3-0.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.