16 December 2019 02:42

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Test ratings: Australia v New Zealand, Perth

Neil Wagner knew what was coming from Mitchell Starc - it wasn't going to be in his half of the pitch - and he somehow managed to swipe a top edge for six over third man. Wagner had put his body on the line for New Zealand, bowling 60 overs in a Test - the most he has sent down - during which, according to an ABC news report, Perth recorded three consecutive days over 40C for the first time. It felt a long time ago as the last wicket fell, but the fourth day had started with an extraordinary passage of play where Matthew Wade basically stood his ground and allowed Wagner to hit him. Though the margin of defeat was huge, taken in isolation New Zealand's short-ball plan worked superbly in the second innings as Wagner and Tim Southee created a collapse of 7 for 58. Ultimately his team could not handle what Australia produced in response, bowled out for 166 and 171, and if the efforts of Wagner and the other bowlers is not to be wasted New Zealand's batting must respond.

Wagner and Southee should be due extra downtime given their efforts after New Zealand lost Lockie Ferguson on the first day. On a positive note for them, Trent Boult is looking likely to be fit for the Boxing Day Test after being "close" for Perth according to Williamson. Australian quick Mitchell Starc was too hot to handle for New Zealand in their heavy first test loss in Perth. Barring a training mishap in Trent Boult's carefully monitored loading programme, the pace spearhead will return for Lockie Ferguson in a significant Boxing Day test boost for a badly beaten New Zealand side. But that can't be the only change, after this humbling, overpowering defeat in Perth which presents the monumental task of winning at the MCG and SCG - where none of them have played a test - to replicate New Zealand's only Australian series win of 34 years ago.

PAUL KANE/GETTY IMAGES Tom Blundell could play his first test in two years in Melbourne if the Black Caps shake up their misfiring batting order. ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT They carried the drinks in Perth but Trent Boult, Todd Astle and Tom Blundell could potentially all come in for the Boxing Day test. So, with a sober selector's hat on, how does one pick a New Zealand XI to compete with this imposing, confident Australian side and even threaten to beat them in their first Boxing Day test since 1987? First, the batting, which is problem No 1 against a fire-breathing Mitchell Starc, the excellent Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, with the likely addition of James Pattinson who has 20 wickets at 17.70 in three tests against the Black Caps. It feels like pick-on-Jeet month, but Raval just cannot be thrown to the lions at the MCG colosseum averaging 7.33 from his last nine test innings.

ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT Black Caps opener Jeet Raval gets a helpful reminder of his score as he wanders off Optus Stadium to an uncertain future in the test XI. CAMERON SPENCER/GETTY IMAGES New Zealand need to try and find a way to handle Mitchell Starc after his man of the match nine-wicket haul in Perth. Sending Astle out first with Tom Latham is a big call but would allow them to play a more attacking spinner (Santner bowled 41 wicketless overs in Perth, in more spin-friendly conditions than are likely in Melbourne), and four pacemen plus Colin de Grandhomme in their bid to snare 20 wickets. TREVOR COLLENS/AP New Zealand's Mitchell Santner bowled 41 overs without taking a wicket in Perth. Last year India scored 443-7 declared batting first and hammered Australia (without suspended duo Steve Smith and David Warner) by 137 runs as fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah took nine wickets and spinner Ravi Jadeja five.

Mark Geenty's New Zealand XI for Melbourne: Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Blundell, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult. Joe Burns 6 After missing out on day one, he consolidated his position in the side with a determined half-century under lights in the second innings that will give his confidence a boost heading to Boxing Day. Marnus Labuschagne 10 Another game, another ton for the rising star, who became only the ninth Australian man to score three consecutive Test centuries. Matthew Wade 5.5 Underwhelming numbers for the left-hander, who was bowled shouldering arms in the first innings and worked over by Neil Wagner in the second. Credit:AP Tim Paine 7 Underrated effort in the first innings as it allowed Australia to push past 400 and take the new ball under lights. Was bowled off his pads by a curving Josh Hazlewood inswinger in the first innings and was baffled in the second by a short ball from Mitchell Starc that hit a crack and lobbed off the shoulder of his bat to Nathan Lyon at point.

Credit:AP Tom Latham 3 Fell for a duck in the first innings when caught and bowled by Starc, but battled hard in the second (18 off 68 balls) before playing back to Nathan Lyon and was trapped lbw to Nathan Lyon on a decision review. Fell for 34 in the first innings when caught spectacularly by an airborne Steve Smith at slip, then for 14 in the second when he bobbed up a simple catch to Matthew Wade at bat pad off Lyon. He is a well-prepared skipper in the field, with the Black Caps' tactics working treat in Australia's second innings, but it's runs that count. Ross Taylor 6 The Black Caps' second leading run scorer in Test history delivered a stand-out 80 in the tourists' first innings - one of only three scores in double digits. If Australia continue to play as they did in Perth they will not lose a Test to New Zealand this summer, says former captain Ricky Ponting. Australia thumped the Black Caps by 296 runs inside four days in the first Domain Test at Perth Stadium despite being a specialist bowler down. Josh Hazlewood's hamstring injury, which has ruled the paceman out of the second Test at the MCG, was not enough to blunt Australia's attack which captured 20 wickets in just 120.5 overs. Pace ace Mitch Starc was named player of the match for his nine wickets to take his tally to 42 in seven day-night Tests, while Marnus Labuschagne's prolific summer rolled on with scores of 143 and 50. While Australia's attack prospered, New Zealand's gutsy bowlers toiled hard having suffered their own injury blow, with express paceman Lockie Ferguson bowling just 11 overs before straining his right calf. "I know Wagner ran in and bowled some short stuff and probably upset some of the batters but at 130kph it's a bit different than when you've got guys like Starc and (Pat) Cummins running in and really upsetting the Kiwi batsmen and knocking them over. "Australia have played some really good cricket here in Perth and if they continue to play anywhere near that I can't see New Zealand winning a game." New Zealand's attack will be boosted by the expected return of Trent Boult for the Boxing Day Test. Boult has missed the Black Caps' last two Tests having suffered a rib injury in the victory over England at Mount Maunganui last month, but New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is hoping the left-armer will be fully fit for the second Test. Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner. New Zealand: Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson (c) First Test: Australia won by 296 runs in Perth Australia vs New Zealand, Boxing Day Test every ball live and ad free on Fox Cricket 501 from 10am AEDT December 26-30 Australia steamrolled New Zealand in Perth with a day to spare to take a 1-0 series lead. Stream the Australia v New Zealand Domain Test Series Live & Ad-Break Free During Play with KAYO SPORTS. As predicted, Nathan Lyon came into his own on a pitch playing tricks in Perth in the fourth innings with New Zealand chasing an improbable 468 for victory. The Australia off-spinner started the rot with perhaps the most prized wicket of all Black Caps players – the skipper Kane Williamson, in a manner Michael Hussey predicted in commentary. Williamson is one of the best players in the world, and after a fast start off Mitchell Starc, was outdone by what Lyon managed to achieve off the day four Perth pitch. Losing Lockie Ferguson on the opening day forced the tourists into an instant battle to share the load, but Wagner and Tim Southee – who sent down 51.3 overs for great match figures of 9-162 – did the heavy lifting with aplomb. Wagner dismissed Smith twice off the short ball, with many others falling victim to short-pitched bowling in the Test. However, Smith is perhaps the most prized wicket in world cricket, but Wagner made it look relatively straightforward in Perth. Labuschagne cracked a few milestones in Perth, becoming the first to 1000 runs for the calendar year after registering a third Test ton in as many innings.