Johnson leads clinical Australia to victory
It took Australia only 48 minutes on the fourth day to wrap up New Zealand's final four wickets and claim a 149-run win in the first Test at the Gabba. Mitchell Johnson finished with his first five-wicket haul in Tests and Stuart Clark ended up with four victims as New Zealand's collapsible tail lived up to its reputation and they were bundled out for 177.
The match finished so early - it was not yet 11am in Brisbane - that it gave the satisfied local spectators plenty of time to head off for a Sunday brunch. They had filed into the stadium knowing that a long day was improbable but the swiftness of the finish was still rather startling.
New Zealand began the day needing 184 runs for victory with six wickets down but the already unlikely scenario became completely unfeasible when they lost Daniel Vettori and Ross Taylor to Johnson for the addition of 18 runs. Vettori fell in almost identical fashion to the first innings when he drove to point and Andrew Symonds jumped to take a one-handed catch above his head.
Taylor followed in Johnson's next over when he drove at a ball that moved across him and edged behind to Brad Haddin for 75. When Clark added Iain O'Brien, who lobbed a simple chance to Michael Clarke at point, the score was 9 for 164 and the only remaining points of interest were whether Johnson would collect his fifth and Chris Martin would make his 24th Test duck.
The answers were yes and no. Martin managed to squeeze a single off Clark - and then watched as Tim Southee pounded a pair of sixes straight down the ground - but his bat returned to near hologram status when he was bowled from the first straight ball he received from Johnson. The stumps rattled, Australia celebrated and it left Johnson with 5 for 39, match figures of 9 for 69, and the Man-of-the-Match award.
He was perhaps fortunate to receive the honour ahead of Simon Katich, whose unbeaten 131 was a matchwinning effort on a pitch where only two other batsmen posted half-centuries. Johnson was Australia's leading wicket-taker on the tour of India but he was still pleased to return to more familiar and friendly conditions after the lifeless surfaces he had encountered recently.
"It is good to get back on a bouncy fast track," Johnson said after the match. "I felt pretty good over in India. I just try and hit the deck as hard as I can and that's what I did out here, so I'm feeling pretty good about my bowling at the moment."
The challenge for the fast bowlers will be greater on a flatter pitch at the Adelaide Oval, where the final match of the two-Test series begins on Friday. Australia will likely squeeze the offspinner Jason Krejza into the side while New Zealand have serious questions over their batting and could bolster the line-up by including Peter Fulton.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo