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With David Warner controlling the chase by occupying one end, Doug Bracewell's only option was the dismantle the other, which he did
February 20, 2012
Best Test Bowling PerformanceDoug Bracewell
The night before New Zealand's magical last day in Hobart, Doug Bracewell was on the phone to his father, the former Test player turned academy coach Brendon Bracewell, who had some words of advice. Australia were 0 for 72, chasing 241. Too often New Zealand's bowlers had overpitched or dropped short. It was a challenging batting surface but the match was slipping from New Zealand's grasp.
"The Aussies are like anyone," Brendon told Doug. "If you keep the ball on a five-metre length and around off stump, they battle."
The next day Bracewell junior took his dad's advice. Australia battled. He added some lethal swing in both directions. Australia crumbled. He took the final wicket with Australia eight runs from victory. New Zealand partied like it was 1985.
In his third Test, Bracewell had bowled his side to victory. And not just to any victory, to a win that would be as famous as any in the side's history. They hadn't won a Test in Australia in more than a quarter of a century. They had never done it without Richard Hadlee.
A generation of New Zealanders grew up thinking a draw was the best their team could hope for against Australia. Now they saw there was a much better option. It was a win that meant something. And it was all down to Bracewell.
His moment had arrived when Ross Taylor handed him the ball for a three-over spell before lunch. Australia were 159 for 2. They were 82 runs from a 2-0 series win. David Warner was on 84. He had resisted many of his attacking urges, but New Zealand knew he could seal the game in a handful of overs if they gave him the chance.
Bracewell set about dismantling the rest of Australia's batting line-up. He gave some width to Ricky Ponting, who shuffled across and tried one of his trademark back-foot drives through the off side, only to see the ball lob off the toe of the bat to Tim Southee at cover.
In his next over Bracewell tackled the Australian captain, Michael Clarke. He had bowled Clarke off a no-ball in the first Test at the Gabba, and again in the first innings in Hobart from a legitimate delivery. Brendon Bracewell had told his son that watching from afar it appeared that Clarke was worried about him.
Bracewell changed his angle. He came wider of the crease than he had for Ponting, angling the ball in to Clarke and straightening it just enough. Clarke obliged with a drive that was edged to first slip, where Taylor juggled the catch. Australia had gone from 159 for 2 to 159 for 4. The next delivery, they would be 159 for 5.
Michael Hussey walked to the crease having endured a lean patch in Tests, with 1, 0, 20, 39, 15 and 8 from his past six innings. Immediately Bracewell forced Hussey to play, with a ball that pitched on line and straightened, striking the pad in line with the stumps. It was a fine piece of bowling that was not rewarded by umpire Asad Rauf, who perhaps felt it would have missed leg. But Hussey was condemned by the review requested by Taylor, and New Zealand went to lunch with Bracewell having changed the game.
The lunches offered at Bellerive Oval are renowned as the best in Australia - fresh oysters, mussels and local cheeses often on the menu. Whatever the New Zealanders ate during that break, it didn't weigh them down. Southee picked off two wickets in an over shortly after the resumption and Bracewell followed in the next over with two more wickets of his own.
The jury says...
In a sense, he actually took three; it's just that one was taken away from him. James Pattinson, the left-hander, made the mistake of leaving a delivery that curved back in to him and it clipped the pad on the way through to the wicketkeeper, encouraging Rauf to give him out. The decision was overturned on review, but Pattinson's reprieve lasted just two balls as he drove at a delivery angled across him. This one didn't straighten, and he edged to second slip.
Two balls later, another left-hander, Mitchell Starc, failed to handle a ball that straightened down the line. It nipped between bat and pad and bowled him. Bracewell's variations, his accuracy, his nagging lines and lengths, had debilitated Australia. They were 199 for 9. New Zealand were on the brink of a triumph.
And yet Warner and the No. 11, Nathan Lyon, did not fold. They fought and clung on, and Lyon survived an lbw decision against him off Southee that was overturned. New Zealand had already started their celebrations when the third umpire ruled in Australia's favour. They had to move back into position and regain their focus.
The runs were gradually chipped away from the target, a couple here, a boundary there. By the time Bracewell started his 17th over - and his tenth in the spell that had started before lunch - Australia needed only nine for victory. The tension was spreading throughout the New Zealand camp - and right around the sparse Bellerive crowd.
With the field spread, Warner took a single from the first ball. Lyon survived the next two but not a third. Bracewell, described by dad Brendon as "not a worrier", went back to basics and found that aiming at the stumps was the best way to handle a No. 11. From wide of the crease, he angled the ball in and Lyon missed, the splayed stumps a symbol of New Zealand's historic triumph.
Bracewell was mobbed. His spell read 9.4 overs, two maidens, 6 for 26.
The unfortunate postscript was that despite taking nine wickets for the game and being the architect of the victory, Bracewell was not Man of the Match. Channel Nine and their sponsor Vodafone had used the series to trial a mobile phone app that allowed viewers to vote for the official match award. Warner, who carried his bat for 123 in a losing cause, was the winner.
The public-voting system was quickly abandoned, but too late for Bracewell. Instead he had to settle for being the toast of New Zealand. He will now occupy a place in the country's sporting history that can never be taken away from him.
There's no app for that.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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