Test ratings: Starc and Labuschagne key to Aussie success
Australia wrapped up the First Test in Perth in fine style as Mitchell Starc with the ball and Marnus Labuschagne with the bat led the way. Here's how they fared.
David Warner 5
Was denied a half century in the first dig by a sensational caught and bowled from Neil Wagner, though was frustrated by Kiwi tactics to strangle his run scoring after a rapid opening that may have contributed to his downfall. Gave his wicket away cheaply in the second innings with a loose shot for a modest contribution. Did pass 7000 Test runs in the match but an unconvincing performance by his own high standards.
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Joe Burns 6
A second innings half century was vital in Australia's batting New Zealand out of the game
and showed resilience after a disappointing first dig that continued a run of low scores. Scratched around and took an age to get off the mark but rode those nerves to deliver a valuable, even if not eye catching, contribution to the team.
Marnus Labuschagne 9
The summer of Marnus continued in Perth with the world class No.3 posting a third successive Test century. It is a measure of how far he's come in such a short period of time that 'just' a half century in the second innings almost felt like a failure of sorts.
Now the leading Test run scorer this calendar year, he went past 1000 runs in 2019 and his century stand with Steve Smith - in which he took the lead role and shepherded the former captain through a tough period - was the bedrock for the comprehensive victory. Economical if not penetrative with the ball in hand, though did shoulder a decent amount of workload with Australia a frontline bowler down.
Steve Smith 7
Smith's return of 69 runs across the match fell well below his usual levels. But even when not piling on the runs Smith continues to have a major say in proceedings. His five slip catches included a take that will almost certainly not be bettered this or most other summers. His superman dive to take a one handed catch to remove New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson in the first innings thrilled the Perth crowd and energised the whole contest when Australia turned the screws to forge a big first innings lead.
Matthew Wade 5
Relished the contest with equally pugnacious opponent Wagner, opting to face down the Kiwi's short ball assault by wearing much of it, and came out to bat in difficult circumstances under lights on both occasions. But failed to contribute to the team cause through runs, failing to reach 20 in either innings. Was victim to a near unplayable delivery from Tim Southee first up but was the architect of his own downfall with a wretched pull shot against de Grandhomme. Earns a bonus point for his wholehearted and entertainingly aggressive medium pace spell when called on with the ball still new.
Travis Head 5.5
Wasn't alone in falling in to New Zealand's short ball traps but after a non-event of an appearance last time out against Pakistan missed an opportunity to quieten the voices calling for him to be dropped.
After seeing out a treacherous spell under lights, battled to a tidy half century before throwing away his wicket when a big score beckoned, and fared worse in the second knock when offering catching practice to Colin de Grandhomme when still on single figures.
Did pull off a sensational catch to remove Henry Nicholls late on in the match and was energetic in the field - even turning his arm over for a few overs of passable spin bowling - but his main currency is runs and he left plenty out there.
Tim Paine 7
Paine once more offered less than expected of him with the bat - a two ball duck in the second innings and a snail pace 39 in the first knock when Australia became becalmed in the afternoon heat. Though faced with the challenge of steering a pace attack minus one of its key weapons he smartly rotated and managed their workload and also showed an uncharacteristic level of aptitude using the DRS system.
His keeping was tidy but for one howler to miss an easy run out against JB Watling and his performance in the post match press conference - evoking Bodyline to stoke up the contest ahead of Melbourne - spoke of a man enjoying leading the side.
Pat Cummins 7
Cummins' three wickets in the match were scant reward for another display of constantly menacing pace and precision. And the pressure he exerted on the Kiwi batsmen undoubtedly contributed to the wickets taken by others. Never dropped in intensity despite having to shoulder a greater workload due to the loss of Hazlewood.
Mitchell Starc 9
Starc terrorised New Zealand's top order in both innings and cut through the tail with a surgeon's precision in a man of the match performance of sheer venom. Followed up his five wicket haul in the first innings with four more in the second to make light of the absence of pace partner Hazlewood.
The pink ball prince revealed during the match that the day-night ball isn't his weapon of choice but it didn't show in two devastating spells under lights, with both the new ball and a worn cherry. Made pre-summer suggestions that his place in the side wasn't secure look as ridiculous as a tailend batsmen trying to defend one of his yorkers. Entertained the crowd with some big hitting with the bat for a useful 53 runs across the match, too.
Nathan Lyon 8
The decisive figure in Australia's previous visit to the Perth Stadium, when he spun the side to victory over India, Lyon again exploited a wearing, springy pitch to see Australia over the line on the final day of play. Took the key wickets of Kane Williamson and Tom Latham on day four with figures of 4-63 offering able, skilful support to Starc's wrecking ball.
Josh Hazlewood N/A
If you could rate him based on the 1.2 overs he bowled then he was headed for and eight out of ten or above. Looked electric in the eight balls he bowled in the match before a hamstring injury forced him from the field. His vicious in-swinger through the gate to remove Jeet Raval's middle stump in the evening session on day two left the Kiwis two down for a single run and helped set the tone for an explosive period of play.
Micheal Neser N/A
Came in as a reserve fielder for virtually the entire match after Hazlewood went down injured and was tireless in the field, chasing down seemingly lost causes, and took a catch to dismiss Tim Southee in the first innings.
Definitely gets a minimum of eight out of ten for the performance of a true team man who may get more of an active role with the ball in hand in Melbourne with Hazlewood confirmed to be missing the Boxing Day Test.