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December 12, 2011
New Zealand sides defeat Australia at rugby. Or netball. They don't beat Australia in Test cricket. And they definitely don't do it on Australian soil. At least, that was the way New Zealand were viewed until a quiet Monday afternoon in Hobart, when Doug Bracewell curled the ball through Australia's middle and lower order. A seven-run win ended 18 years of hidings and draws.
Before this day, New Zealand had only won in Australia when Richard Hadlee was at his peak. They hadn't even managed it in New Zealand since March 1993. To put that in perspective, Bracewell, Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult had not yet started school. The New Zealand captain who ended the drought, Ross Taylor, was eight years old.
"When did we win?" Taylor said after the Hobart victory. "Oh, 1993. Can I remember it? Vaguely. Not well."
A generation of young New Zealand players and fans now know what it's like to beat Australia. It can be done. And after Taylor's team stayed with Australia for two days in the first Test in Brisbane, only to lose their way as the match wore on, he had one simple message for his men. Show some ticker and never give up. As a result, Taylor has the enviable record of two wins from three Tests in charge.
"I'm not a very good speaker, as you can tell by now, but the only thing I try to instil in the players is fight and be proud in playing for your country," Taylor said. "We didn't show much fight in Brisbane but we showed a lot of guts and determination out there today. That was for the New Zealand public, an early Christmas present.
"[I have] over 50 text messages on my phone - I think that's pretty big. Rugby is our No.1 sport but any sport against Australia, winning in Australia, the New Zealand public enjoys. The New Zealand public knows that the New Zealand cricket team, when playing against Australia, is always the underdogs, but they don't like it when we don't show much fight. That's what we didn't do in Brisbane. We showed a lot of ticker today."
They needed it. On the second afternoon, when Taylor and Kane Williamson were batting with discipline, New Zealand deserved to be favourites. By the fourth morning, when David Warner was on his way to a century with a composed Usman Khawaja also in the middle, Australia were 119 runs from victory with nine wickets in hand.
"We believed in ourselves, that we could win this match," Taylor said. "We knew we had to fight. We knew we had to play a lot better than we did in Brisbane. We talked a lot about the way we bowled in Zimbabwe [during the Bulawayo Test] in the last session; about just fighting, taking our catches and bowling in the right areas, and we'll get reward. That's what happened."
Not that it was smooth sailing, even when Bracewell and Tim Southee started to torment the Australian batsmen with hooping swing. With 42 runs still required, Warner was joined by the No. 11, Nathan Lyon, and the pair nearly steered Australia home.
New Zealand thought they had won when Lyon was given out lbw but Australia's review indicated the ball had pitched outside the leg stump, even though the right-armer Southee was coming over the wicket. To the naked eye, it was hard to believe the Eagle-Eye verdict, as the ball appeared to strike Lyon in line. It nearly cost New Zealand the game.
"It's a G-rated programme isn't it?" Taylor said when asked about how he felt at the time of the reviews. "There were a lot of things going through my mind. There must be something wrong with my eyes. For me personally, some of them which I thought were not out were out and vice-versa. But at the end of the day, we won the match. The emotions going through? My goal was to show a calmness, but inside I was churning.
"They fought the whole way. We would have won by 40 runs out there against some teams. But the way Lyon and Warner played, I nearly had a heart attack. Warner was outstanding. To come in in only his second match and control the game the way he did … we'll be on the wrong side of a few hidings so I can't feel too sorry for him, but he deserves a lot of credit for the way he batted."
As it turned out, Warner was Man of the Match, ahead of the more deserving Bracewell. The award was voted for by the Australian public, watching the telecast. But it's the New Zealand public who will have the last laugh. For the first time in a generation, they can celebrate a Test victory over Australia.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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