My own pink ball experience has me nervous for Adelaide

Kookaburra have tried 16 different shades of pink in getting from the original 'classic pink' (left) to what I dubbed 'highlighter pink' (right), which will be used this week in Adelaide..

Kookaburra have tried 16 different shades of pink in getting from the original ‘classic pink’ (left) to what I dubbed ‘highlighter pink’ (right), which will be used this week in Adelaide..

The Roar: It’s not quite the same as facing or bowling with the new pink Kookaburra ball, but my own experience with the most important element of the day/night Test cricket revolution hasn’t been brilliant.

The Prime Minister’s XI tour match against New Zealand in Canberra in late October was notable not just because it marked the Black Caps first outing in Australia, but it also marked my ball-by-ball commentary debut for ABC Grandstand radio.

The commentary went very well; better than I’d hoped, even, but that wasn’t the issue. Seeing the pink ball was a bit of an issue, though, and I thought it might be useful to share the experience, and even see if anyone else has had similar trouble. It might just be me!

#AUSvNZ: 2nd Test, Perth – Day 5 in dots

Result or draw? And which particular result? The draw seems most likely, yet we could be in for a compelling finish, too..

Evening session :: New Zealand 624 & 2/104 (K.Williamson 25*, R.Taylor 31*; M.Johnson 6-2-20-2) drew with  Australia 9dec/559 & 7dec/385.

Test scalp no.313: MJ Guptill c Burns b Johnson 17 Image: ABC Grandstand

A one hour rain delay killed off all chances of a result, and as the match petered out to the inevitable draw, it all became about one departing great of the modern game.

Johnson bowled with freedom for one last time, and took both New Zealand openers with him before, finishing with 2/20 from his final spell in Test cricket. He finished with 313 Test wickets and was deservedly chaired from the field bad light, the umpires, and common sense brought an early finish to the match. Well played, Mitch..

Australia lead the series 1-0, heading into the final Test of the series, the ‘pink ball Test’ in Adelaide next week.

Afternoon session :: New Zealand 624 & 0/28 (T.Latham 15*, M.Guptill 13*) at Tea, trail Australia 9dec/559 & 7dec/385 by 293 runs.

  • Johnson batted with the freedom of a man with nothing to lose, making a very handy 29, as Australia’s lead continued to build but with no real sign of a declaration. As the lead passed 300 though, the speculation only intensified for a run-a-ball chase for NZ from the remaining 50 or so overs in the day.
  • MitchWith a couple of tail-end boundaries, Steve Smith called the Australians in, setting New Zealand 321 to win from 48 overs.
  • ..which they sort of started chasing, for 8 overs, when suddenly it started raining. Tea was taken early, and they may well get back on, but you know, something remarkable would have to happen to see a result now…

Morning session :: Australia 5/331 from 92 overs (P.Nevill 22*, M.Johnson 20*; T.Southee 19-3-67-2) & 9 dec/559 at Lunch, lead New Zealand 624 by 266 runs.

  • It’s been rumoured and whispered for weeks that it might be coming, but this morning it was confirmed; Mitchell Johnson (right) announced his retirement from international cricket after the completion of this Test before play. After 311 Test wickets – now 4th overall on the all-time Australian list – Johnson could see no point playing on, and becomes the fifth senior player of that generation to pull the pin since the start of the Ashes series in England. Michael Clarke and Shane Watson were two of them, and Johnson is only six months younger than them, so it was no great surprise. And to be fair, he has bowled in this series like a man who know the end is nigh; and when you talk about retirement, you almost certainly have.
  • Steady Australian wickets throughout the session, but no real signs of declaration, nor of any sign that a result is being chased. Steve Smith could only add 7 to his overnight score; Adam Voges just 18. They fell to Trent Boultand and Tim Southee, respectively, with a bit of movement with the old ball. But once NZ took the new ball, runs were easy to come by again.
  • A nice touch from the Black Caps, forming a guard of honour for Johnson’s last walk to the middle in Test Cricket.

Australia’s ‘Play to win’ mantra tested by Black Caps in Perth

Steve Smith (right) congratulates Adam Voges, after the Western Australian raised a Test century on his home turf.. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: After Australia racked up 2/416 in Perth last Friday, the first day of the Second Test against New Zealand, I’m sure I wasn’t the only pundit or commentator putting the line through the Black Caps.

However, consider this. Since that cracking Day 1 start, Australia didn’t win another session in the Test until maybe the afternoon session yesterday. From the morning of Day 2 until Lunch on Day 4, it was all New Zealand, and coming into today – which didn’t seem likely after Day 1 – New Zealand could still win this Test.

In truth, after conceding four hundred in a day, New Zealand should’ve been thumped in this game. Instead, some fairly silly Australian batting at the end of their first innings, and then five sessions of New Zealand cashing in on some similarly generous offerings from the Australian bowlers – Mitchell Starc aside, mostly – means that the Aussies still have some serious work if they really think they can win this Test..

#AUSvNZ: 2nd Test, Perth – the Day 4 dot points

All results are still on the table in this Test – quite remarkably, considering where we were on Day 1 – and it will be an intriguing Day 4 to see just which result becomes most likely…

Evening session :: Australia 2/258from 63 overs (S.Smith 131*, A.Voges 101*; T.Southee 13-3-40-1)  and 9 dec/559 at STUMPS, lead New Zealand 624 by 193 runs.

  • Easy going for the Australians, with Smith and Voges both raising important centuries as the lead builds with a late flourish, but isn’t anywhere near enough to declare overnight. NZ managed to slow the game down in the last hour – ridiculously and obviously so, at times – and it has worked to a degree. I’m sure Australia would’ve preferred a lead closer to 250 tonight, than 200.
  • Smith’s 12th Test century (right) in 140 balls (13×4)
  • Voges’ second Test ton in 180 balls (15×4)
  • All eyes tomorrow will be on Smith, and just when he declares. Australia will definitely need a bigger lead – 300+ would be my guess – but they also need to give themselves enough time to take ten wickets. And that might be difficult, given the way they’ve bowled in this Test..

Afternoon session :: Australia 2/128 (S.Smith 63*, A.Voges 43*; T.Southee 7-1-28-1)  and 9 dec/559 at Tea, lead New Zealand 624 by 63 runs.

  • Fast Australian runs were the focus, as the Test sets itself up for a result one way or the other. Joe Burns went first over after lunch, caught by Ross Taylor at first slip off Tim Southee for a duck, and just as David Warner and Stephen Smith looked like they were getting away, Trent Boult (right) had Warner caught at cover for 24, with the score 2/46.
  • Around 20 minutes before Tea, Australia had a lead, and Smith and Adam Voges built their partnership nicely, and pushed the lead to 63 at Tea. They’ve added 82* for the third wicket so far, and loom as the key wickets now for NZ.
  • Smith’s 50 in 57 balls (8×4), but he’s slowed up since then significantly, adding 11 from his next 20 balls by the interval. Smith needs to go big in this innings; must lead from the front..

Morning session :: Australia 0/0 and 9 dec/559 at Lunch, trail New Zealand 624 (R.Taylor 290, K.Williamson 166; M.Starc 37-7-119-4) by 65 runs.

  • Australian wickets was the tale of the morning, bowling New Zealand out for 624 in the end, with Mitchell Starc (right) again the pick, and Mitchell Johnson again seemingly lacking pace, and amid plenty of speculation around that his retirement talk might be more than just talk even as soon as the end of this Test.
  • Ross Taylor was superb again, going past Brian Lara (277, Sydney 1992) as the highest score by a visiting player on Australian soil. But he got some great support at the end from Trent Boult (24*) who again shows he’s in the process of writing a new textbook. Taylor was out caught by sub Jonathan Wells in the deep, off Nathan Lyon, for 290 to close the NZ innings. And no Australian players thought he deserved a handshake out on the field :(
  • Joe Burns saw out the one over the Australians had to face before Lunch. Steve Smith is padded up, with Usman Khawaja’s ability to bat in this innings still not clear.