I think that’s about all for now from the SCG. Thank you, as always, for joining in during this Test, this series, and this summer. There’s going to be plenty more cricket to cover over the coming weeks with ODIs, T20is and the BBL finals, so I hope you join us back here for those. And if your appetite for action today still hasn’t been sated, England’s push for victory over South Africa will get underway shortly.
Australian captain Tim Paine was proud as punch. “I’m very lucky to be captain of this bunch,” he says.
What pleased him the most? Batting big in the first innings. “We haven’t struggled to take 20 wickets in recent years but getting significant runs on the board hasn’t always been possible.” Paine was also pleased with the depth shown around the group, one no longer reliant on a single batsman or bowler to deliver a hot streak of form.
Paine signs off by speaking thoughtfully about his team’s role, and cricket in general, during the horrendous bushfire season and the difficult situation facing many Australians.
Defeated Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson credits Australia for their performance throughout the series before saying it’s time for his side to learn from their mistakes and regroup.
“We did struggle to put them under pressure to take wickets… we weren’t able to get any partnerships together to get any first-innings pressure. We got exposed in many respects against a very good side… We need to use this experience to become better individuals and a better team.”
Player of the match – and the series – Marnus Labuschagne
“It’s good to see everything come together,” the run-machine says with his hands full of prizes.
What made this summer so much better than previous seasons? “My level of concentration, not doing as many silly things, and you have to have a little luck too.”
Speaking of the crowd, hundreds are now on the SCG turf, which is great to see, while the presentation dais is constructed.
Australia’s players are performing their media duties and wading into the crowd. Broad smiles on everyone’s faces as you might expect, if not the hoopla you often find at the end of Tests.
Australia win by 279 runs
Another four day success, a clean sweep of the trans-Tasman series, Australia’s superb Test summer ends on an emphatic high. This was not the prettiest victory but Marnus Labuschagne’s 215 in the first-innings and Nathan Lyon’s pair of five-fors were hard-earned and deserve to be cherished.
New Zealand 136 all out
Matt Henry’s broken thumb is not being risked. New Zealand are all out.
WICKET! Watling c Cummins b Lyon 19 (New Zealand 136-9)
Impervious to the carnage unfolding around him, Watling continues his vigil, seeing off Lyon for four deliveries. Then as soon as he tries to engineer the strike for the start of the following over he sweeps straight into Pat Cummins’ bread basket at square-leg.
WICKET! Somerville b Starc 7 (New Zealand 136-8)
Somerville gets off the mark with an uppercut for four off Starc, then he calmly drives him square for three. Seven pretty runs but, in the circumstances, shots with a high degree of risk. You have to ask questions about what’s going on in New Zealand’s dressing room with the shot selection of some of their batsmen today.
And then Starc executes a centimetre perfect yorker that uproots middle stump with the most satisfying sound in cricket. We’ll be done tonight.
47th over: New Zealand 136-8 (Watling 19)
WICKET! Astle c Pattinson b Lyon 17 (New Zealand 128-7)
Whaaaaaat a caaaaaaaatch from James Pattinson! Absolute shocking shot from Todd Astle, swiping Lyon across the line, sending a top edge spiralling towards midwicket. It looks to be dropping safe but Pattinson, running around from mid-on, refuses to give up the chase and makes ground, pumping his arms and legs as if his life depends on it before diving forward to hold onto a memorable catch. Very Glenn McGrath at Adelaide Oval areas.
45th over: New Zealand 127-6 (Watling 17, Astle 17) Enough of Marnus Labuschagne’s legspin, time for Mitchell Starc to blow New Zealand’s tail away. Not this over. After Watling rotates strike Astle is equal to the paceman’s late reverse swing, drilling a couple of twos into the off-side for good measure. Both New Zealanders are now on the same score, Watling from 99 deliveries, Astle 15.
Joe Harman has emailed a suggestion for what to do tomorrow. “Assuming that NZ are still batting at the close of play (a big and not necessarily valid assumption) perhaps they should declare and concede the inevitable defeat AND use tomorrow (the ground’s booked after all) for a bushfire fundraising one day game-grab something positive out of this debacle.”
44th over: New Zealand 122-6 (Watling 16, Astle 13) Astle, apparently oblivious to de Grandhomme’s dismissal, tries to loft Lyon over the infield and gets perilously close to gifting mid-on a catch. Astle, apparently oblivious to his near miss to ball three repeats the shot two deliveries later, this time skewing awkwardly towards midwicket.
43rd over: New Zealand 118-6 (Watling 16, Astle 9) Astle gets off the mark with a four swept out of the rough. Labuschagne almost exacts immediate revenge with a fizzing legspinner that whistles past the outside edge of the bat and the top of off stump. He follows that up with the full toss that Astle dispatches into the deep.
WICKET! De Grandhomme c Burns b Lyon 52 (New Zealand 107-6)
The momentum is all with New Zealand at the moment. Australia are trying all sorts to force a breakthrough, Lyon bowling wide of off stump this over to induce a drive, but when he does CdG slaps him over extra cover for six!
And then he’s out. It’s a fine line between counterattacking and reckless, and chipping Lyon to one of three men stationed around cow corner immediately after hitting a six is probably the latter. Maybe we’ll be all over today after all?
42nd over: New Zealand 107-6 (Watling 14)
41st over: New Zealand 100-5 (Watling 13, de Grandhomme 46) Labuschagne is getting through the crease with plenty of energy and he’s tempting New Zealand into a mishit drive, but both Watling and CdG are secure in their strokeplay.
40th over: New Zealand 97-5 (Watling 11, de Grandhomme 45) Lyon tempts CdG into a loose drive but any frustration the New Zealander may have felt following his streaky inside edge is released with a misfield allowing him to jog to the non-striker’s end. Watling then drops anchor.
39th over: New Zealand 92-5 (Watling 10, de Grandhomme 44) The pattern is becoming predictable as we head towards the conclusion of play. CdG gets off strike early before Watling defends patiently. Labuschagne is unable to generate a false stroke from his latest over.
38th over: New Zealand 90-5 (Watling 9, de Grandhomme 43) New Zealand deal comfortably with Lyon’s latest over. CdG’s scoring rate is now a brisk 75, Watling’s a watchful 11.
37th over: New Zealand 89-5 (Watling 9, de Grandhomme 42) It is spin from both ends, and the strategy almost works when Labuschagne rips one past CdG’s wafty cover drive. Still no breakthrough though and this partnership passes 50. Just under an hour left in the day.
36th over: New Zealand 88-5 (Watling 9, de Grandhomme 41) Labuschagne’s spell lasts just one over as Lyon is recalled. CdG scuffs around for three deliveries before lofting a delivery that turns, on the up, over mid-on for four. You fancy appealing to de Grandhomme’s ego might be Australia’s best plan of attack right now, perhaps with spin from both ends?
35th over: New Zealand 83-5 (Watling 9, de Grandhomme 36) Cummins is doing his best to force a breakthrough but there’s little happening for him out there now and he’s preying on a mistake from one of these two set batsmen. None is forthcoming this over.
34th over: New Zealand 80-5 (Watling 7, de Grandhomme 35) Tim Paine does go to Marnus Labuschagne – a change I like – and it almost pays dividends when CdG tries to drive over the top but succeeds only in finding a leading edge that drops just short of the sweeper coming in from the point boundary. De Grandhomme is playing his shots now, whipping Labuschagne to the on-side despite the ball turning towards off and barely bouncing above ankle height.
33rd over: New Zealand 77-5 (Watling 6, de Grandhomme 33) CdG moves into the 30s with two swings of the bat in the general direction of the covers. The first almost results in a chance for a diving Matthew Wade, the second is a thumping boundary. He follows that by picking up Cummins’ length out of the bowler’s hand and whipping him dismissively to midwicket for two more. Zero footwork from de Grandhomme, but he has a great eye and fast powerful hands.
32nd over: New Zealand 68-5 (Watling 6, de Grandhomme 24) Now the ball has softened, the batsmen have their eyes in, and the pitch has settled down again following its early rollings, things have all become a touch attritional again. New Zealand keep Australia waiting through Pattinson’s latest over. Perhaps time for Labuschagne to mix things up.
31st over: New Zealand 65-5 (Watling 4, de Grandhomme 23) Cummins isn’t out of the attack for long and when he returns he almost has Watling playing on a short delivery outside his off stump. This partnership is starting to reach awkward territory for Australia now, it’s lasted 12 overs, and with just 21 overs left in the afternoon a fifth day is looming large.
Last orders for Russell’s auction…
30th over: New Zealand 63-5 (Watling 3, de Grandhomme 22) Nathan Lyon’s ten-over spell is ended by James Pattinson’s recall into the attack. He backs up Starc’s maiden with one of his own, and looks threatening with some late reverse swing tailing into the right-handed de Grandhomme.
29th over: New Zealand 63-5 (Watling 3, de Grandhomme 22) Watling keeps out a full, swinging, probing maiden from Starc.
“Good afternoon Jonathan,” good afternoon Lee Henderson. “Couldn’t help but notice S.MacGill’s name up there on the SCG Honours board in your Twitter link. We’re sitting here wondering just what his eventual tally might have been if he hadn’t clashed with the Warne era. He certainly didn’t have the chutzpah of Warnie but by crikey the boy could spin a ball couldn’t he.”
A remarkable stroke of misfortune that the second best Australian leg-spinner of the modern era would arrive during the career of the very best. 44 Tests, 208 wickets at 29. In any other era he would have ended with eye-watering numbers.
28th over: New Zealand 63-5 (Watling 3, de Grandhomme 22) Lyon’s getting plenty of turn but there’s less variation for him than earlier, allowing New Zealand to formulate plans. CdG’s involves plodding his front leg down the pitch and hitting through the line over mid-off. He does so twice to good effect to leave Tim Paine scratching his chin.
27th over: New Zealand 54-5 (Watling 2, de Grandhomme 14) CdG has shown more than once this series he’s here for a good time, not a long time. He plays a few more loose strokes during the latest Starc over and it is a mystery how he is not dismissed. One in particular was too good, angling in from around the wicket then seaming away from the outside edge and the off stump. Mesmerising delivery. To compound Starc’s frustration CdG jams his bat on a yorker from the final ball of the over and collects four runs down to third-man. There is no justice.
26th over: New Zealand 50-5 (Watling 2, de Grandhomme 10) Ricky Ponting is ropable with CdG for playing a series of uppish strokes into the on-side. The batsman survives though, and advances his score with two twos and a single. There’s the suggestion a few spots of rain could be falling in the vicinity of the SCG and those clouds are not just grey with bushfire smoke. Could day five be required after all?
25th over: New Zealand 45-5 (Watling 2, de Grandhomme 5) Time for another burst from Mitchell Starc, and he almost immediately does for CdG who leaves a delivery that misses his off stump by the width of a huntsman spider’s furry leg. He then induces an reflexive outside edge from Watling with a rare delivery that spat off this docile surface. It is a gloomy afternoon now in Sydney with ash-laden clouds turning the sky into a scene from a Harry Potter movie when the dementors begin to circle. The floodlights are now in full effect.