Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day

Changing the pace of the game

Peter English

November 27, 2004

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Even Shane Warne got stuck into the bowling © Getty Images
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The pace of Australia's run-scoring since Steve Waugh's captaincy has distorted expectations. Making 600 over two days was hurtling under Allan Border, under Ricky Ponting it threatens to send people for pillows.

At times during Australia's massive first innings there were complaints that attrition was beating action. Stubborn bowling was being met by sombre batting. Australian fans must recognise they have been spoiled. Scoring rates are like house prices, and sometimes come down.

When Ricky Ponting declared at 8 for 575 Australia had responded to Stephen Fleming's ring fields and slowing tactics at 3.7 runs an over. They had scored 100 or more in four of the first five sessions. Still, Ponting had the luxury of giving his bowlers 22 overs for further destruction, and Mathew Sinclair and Mark Richardson became the first batsmen in the match to fall to fast bowlers. A decade earlier the 16,754 spectators would have been smiling at their luck instead of stumbling off in mild disappointment.

Urged on by throbbing masses below the scoreboard, Darren Lehmann neared his Test first century south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Adelaide is his town so first and last names are an extravagance. In his second Test on his home ground, `Boof' again missed his appropriate ending, and was bowled off his pad by Paul Wiseman. At 34, Lehmann is constantly questioned about his future and was unsure whether he was waving goodbye.

Adam Gilchrist emerged from a week of staying low following the walking controversy from the first Test, where his century slipped from notice. During the early stages his bat came through at foreign angles, but soon enough he was sending mid-on and mid-off running down the ground.

The danger of his power when hooking or pulling is undisputed, although Gilchrist is at his most spectacular when playing hard and straight. Chris Martin follows through with his left-arm trailing like a shark fin and nearly lost it - along with his head - when Gilchrist fired a fierce drive past him. It travelled so fast it could not be called a chance.

Daniel Vettori held his caught-and-bowled offering and Gilchrist left with 50. The heat has dictated that, apart from the trend-defying Justin Langer, it is a match for half-centuries and no more. Shane Warne raised his bat and Ponting called him in.

There had been three fifties, a double brought up with a six, and New Zealand were left searching for two batsmen to reproduce the hundreds of Martin Crowe and Andrew Jones on the ground in 1987-88. It wasn't 400 runs in a day like last summer against India, but yawns cannot be forgiven.

Peter English is Australasian editor of Wisden Cricinfo.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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