79th over: Australia 215-3 (Labuschagne 107, Wade 3) A wide is called for a bumper early in Wagner’s over for bouncing too high but he is not deterred, going hard at Labuschagne from around the wicket and prompting a false stroke, nearly picking out backward point when making room outside the leg stump. You don’t see that in Test ricket too often. Gosh, and again – this time in response to a full, straight offering. Had that bowled him it would have looked a tailenders’ dismissal. Ooh, and now nearly tickles the final ball down the legside into Watling’s gloves. Outstanding spell of short bowling.
78th over: Australia 212-3 (Labuschagne 105, Wade 3) Are the Kiwis calling Santner ‘Slinky’? I’m ALL in for that. Isa Guha has just picked up on it too. I’ll add it to the list of toys I’ll buy my soon-to-arrive child but are really for myself. He slinks through a neat and tidy set.
77th over: Australia 211-3 (Labuschagne 104, Wade 3) Wagner to Wade with the light now looking a bit more night than day. Not before time. After finding the inside edge then going upstairs, the slower yorker follows. Top bowling, this. Another bumper, which the left-hander sways away from. Two sharp runs follow behind the square leg ump to finish. He would have been up against it at the danger end had the throw been on target, but it wasn’t close.
A handy list Labuschagne has now joined.
76th over: Australia 209-3 (Labuschagne 104, Wade 1) Santner is playing his role here too, Labuschagne given no option but to defend after singles were exchanged to start the over. Four overs until the new ball and they are all important. Gotta keep it tight and tough.
75th: Australia 207-3 (Labuschagne 103, Wade 0) Wade leaves and ducks the last couple of balls in Wagner’s successful over. So much admiration for Williamson’s approach to Smith. They earned that.
WICKET! Smith c Southee b Wagner 43 (Australia 207-3)
Smith caught in the legside trap! It works for Wagner as it did for Stokes at The Oval (and Ferguson at Lord’s during the World Cup), Smith picking out leg gully on the pull shot. He’s furious. New Zealand made him wait and never let him free. This is their reward: Smith back to the pavilion ahead of the second new ball. Excellent.
74th: Australia 206-2 (Labuschagne 102, Smith 43) I know I’m fascinated with Mark Waugh’s commentary – he was my childhood hero, don’t you know – but he absolutely called that, saying that Marnus should hit Santner over his head to move from 95 to the ton. And so it was. With Smith on strike later in the over, Santner got one to turn big – so big that it ended up with Taylor at first slip diving behind Watling. A good sign for the visitors. But, with Marnus in this kind of shape, it might not matter. What an incredible run he’s on.
Marnus Labuschagne brings up his third Test ton on the trot!
And seals it with a SIX, launching Santner over long-on!
73rd over: Australia 199-2 (Labuschagne 95, Smith 43) Okay, now Wagner is getting the party started with the field set for his short-pitched barrage. Not before time. Smith wants nothing of it, though.
Interesting perspective from Trent Woodhill, a man who is always worth listening to. Is this viable? How to avoid manipulation?
72nd over: Australia 198-2 (Labuschagne 94, Smith 43) There’s the bounce Santner craves from his height, dropping the pace right back and turning past Smith’s edge. “I’m not sure if he hit a footmark?” says Mark Waugh – gotta love his consistency when it comes to finger spinners. He completes the maiden, which is important ahead of this second new ball. They can’t let these two to shift up the gears now.
71st over: Australia 198-2 (Labuschagne 94, Smith 43) Wagner change ends Labuschagne immediately elects to play a deft late cut, steered to the boundary with true class. But he’s not happy, apologising to Smith for playing a shot that could, in theory, see him caught behind the wicket. A touch odd. He’s far happier with the two he takes behind square off the hip, with it raising 1000 runs in Test cricket in this his 12th start. He celebrates by moving to 94 with a bullet, hammering a pull shot to the rope. Fantastic batting.
70th over: Australia 188-2 (Labuschagne 84, Smith 43) Mark Waugh, perfectly in character, is keen to make sure everyone knows how little Santner spinners it. Until, sure enough, he does rip one to Smith. He’s well set now though, playing it late with soft hands.
Confirmed from the NZ camp that Ferguson is off to hospital for an MRI on his right calf muscle. He sustained the injury bowling in the second session – the spell he had Smith dropped at second slip.
69th over: Australia 183-2 (Labuschagne 81, Smith 41) It looks like we’re still some way from the artificial light taking over, which New Zealand need – especially when the second pink new ball arrives in 11 overs time. For now it’s Southee to Labuschagne, up for leg before when beating his inside edge for about the fifth time today. Good bowling but too high for it to be given out or to warrant a review.
Lockie Ferguson is off for scans
68th over: Australia 182-2 (Labuschagne 80, Smith 41) Wagner returns and starts off on a good line and length to Smith rather than going upstairs as he did so routinely in Christchurch a few years ago. On that occasion, Smith got himself a ton. Great contest, though. The bouncer does arrive to finish the set but it isn’t on target.
Uh oh… Lockie Ferguson has been sent for scans of his calf. This is terrible news for New Zealand when you consider how hot it is going to be at Perth throughout this Test Match. If they have lost their fastest bowler, on debut, they could be in real strife.
67th over: Australia 182-2 (Labuschagne 80, Smith 41) Southee is back to replace de Grandhomme, prompting respect from Labuschagne until he angles in at the woodwork, Australia’s in-form number three whipping him away through midwicket to move into the 80s. To think how his recall was reacted to in January this year.
66th over: Australia 178-2 (Labuschagne 76, Smith 41) Santner is into his groove at Smith, trying with all his might to drag him forward in order to bring a stumping into the equation. Not to be. Patience.
They are discussing on commentary the Liam Gallagher circus in Melbourne the other night. A suitable excuse to share the Channel Seven yarn on telly tonight, featuring Amelia, one of my best pals. Advance Australia Fair.
65th over: Australia 178-2 (Labuschagne 76, Smith 41) de Grandhomme’s first misdirected delivery since the break and it is taken by Labuschagne to the fine leg rope. Easy peasy. It brings up the 100 partnership between these two, sharing a hug in the middle to reflect the milestone. It’s the second time they have added triple figures in a Test. Huge smiles – ala Paul Rudd. As is so well documented, they are very fond of playing in the same team.
64th over: Australia 174-2 (Labuschagne 72, Smith 41) Nice shot, Smith into the 40s with a flourish, getting to the pitch of Santner before stroking him expertly through exta cover for four. They have a man catching close in there but this is all along the carpet.
63rd over: Australia 169-2 (Labuschagne 71, Smith 37) Clever captaincy from Williamson bringing de Grandhomme back into the attack after tea, the all-rounder floating down his third straight maiden. Smith has the light-sabre out for the most part, the Black Cap all-rounder very happy to hang out on the fourth/fifth stump.
62nd over: Australia 169-2 (Labuschagne 71, Smith 37) Runs against Santner this time, Smith not missing out when the spinner drifts down leg, glancing three, Labuschagne giving the strike straight back with one to mid-off. He’s collecting so many runs to that part of the ground. Smith finishes with another down the ground. Anyone else curious as to what the attendance figure is going to be?
61st over: Australia 164-2 (Labuschagne 70, Smith 33) Back to back maidens from de Grandhomme, this time keeping Labuschagne defending on the stumps then leaving just outside. Always tidy.
Around the grounds, England’s women have won, by 127 runs, their second ODI against Pakistan in Malaysia to go two up. All-rounder Nat Sciver smashed her third international ton along the way.
60th over: Australia 164-2 (Labuschagne 70, Smith 33) Santner is giving the ball a chance to turn, but it isn’t doing much. Of course, the tweaker made his impressive Test debut with the pink ball against Australia in the inaugural day-night Test at Adelaide in 2015.
59th over: Australia 163-2 (Labuschagne 69, Smith 33) de Grandhomme is given first crack after the break, in an effort to keep the Australians thinking about it, no doubt. He does beat Smith with a ball well wide off the off-stump, almost going under his bat at just 120kph. Sure enough, the clever all-rounder banks another maiden.
58th over: Australia 163-2 (Labuschagne 69, Smith 33) Smith tucks twice into the gap, Labuschagne pushes into another at cover. These two are straight back into their work. They’ve put on 88.
Bad light has again stopped play prematurely at ‘Pindi between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. That’s prompted a few tweets my way in relation to a familiar whinge of mine. We have this pink ball, right? Why don’t we use it when the light fades? Given the balls are changed all the time in Test cricket, why not just chuck the bowling team a pink ball under lights until the scheduled close then return to the red in the AM? Of course, a pink ball of comparable overs. Sure, it’s not absolutely perfect as a solution but it is better than sending players off for bad light in this day and age when we have a ball for it.
Almost forgot it is Election Day over here. Without wanting to go all Australian Exceptionalism on you (it isn’t a thing), I can’t get over the public knocking back preferential voting here in 2011. Anyway, cricket! That great, enduring distraction.
Another? Nonsense XIs. Music. Yes, Lee Henderson, Yes. He writes: “Great to have you back and in tandem with Lemon again.” Love to be back. “Bunch of us sipping IPA’s here in the drought stricken sub tropics of the Byron region NSW and we have the OBO up on a 75” monster screen which is split between the Guardian and Radiohead tracks for Kid A. which are playing through a killer system. We’re matching the team to the tracks.”
This is brilliant. And I know about four posts ago I was talking about essay ideas, but an enduring entry on my “stuff to write” list is linking songs on an album as to where they would be in a batting XI.
So, here goes, via Lee:
1.Everything in it’s right place= Smith
2. Kid A = Marnus Labuschagne
3. The National Anthem= The GOAT
4. How To Disappear Completely = Joe Who?
5.Treefingers= Josh Hazlewood
6. Optimistic = Matthew Wade
7. In Limbo = David Warner (or is that purgatory…)
8. Idioteque = We passed on this one, too cruel.
9. Morning Bell = Tim Paine obviously ( each morning his alarm goes off and Alexa says: Good morning captain my captain)
10. Motion Picture soundtrack = Pat (Hollywood good looks) Cummins(Had to grab two tracks from Radiohead’s oeuvre to make up the numbers)
11a. Prove Yourself (Pablo Honey) =Travis Head
12a. Reckoner(In Rainbows) = Mitchell Starc
Idioteque can also be interpreted as the best song on the album, thus, Smith? Great OBO areas.
TEA: Australia 160-2
57th over: Australia 160-2 (Labuschagne 68, Smith 31) Jeev Raval with a few old-school loopy leggies before the session break. Neither man takes the bait, happy to operate exclusively in singles. Oh, scrap that – Labuschagne punches a drive to extra cover for a couple to finish. That’ll be tea. A wicketless shift for the Australians.
56th over: Australia 155-2 (Labuschagne 65, Smith 29) Smith’s turn to show some authority, once again coming down the track to Santner before bisecting the fielders through the onside. Class. Alongside the crosscourt forehand smash he plays when racking up third innings declaration runs, that’s my favourite shot of his.
55th over: Australia 148-2 (Labuschagne 65, Smith 22) Ferguson to go again for his maiden wicket. He joins a list of bowlers who have been so close but so far from breaking through in Australia only for it to go wrong. Off the top of my head, Michael Beer’s no-ball when Cook was on a million in Sydney in 2011. Stokes in 2013 at Adelaide, overstepping to Haddin. Of course, Tom Curran on Boxing Day 2017 when Warner was 99. Over the last couple of weeks, the teenagers Naseem and Musa Khan both won edges after overstepping. There’s probably a pretty good Nighwatchman essay in that. Don’t steal it. Back to the middle, Labuschagne does keen pushing, thumping a pull shot through midwicket and out to the boundary. This partnership has moved from 50 to 77 in about five overs.
54th over: Australia 143-2 (Labuschagne 61, Smith 21) The dropped catch doesn’t get better on replay, Latham’s disappointment palpable. “Next one!” says Watling, as is the custom. But with Smith being Smith, might that be in 24 hours from now? Smith hits Santner hard and straight but Umpire Llong’s boot stops an otherwise certain boundary. What a sport. Labuschagne then picks up a couple through cover. It might be nearing the break but after a dropped catch, this might be the time to pile in and punch the bruise.