Test bowling winner February 20, 2012

Doing as dad says

With David Warner controlling the chase by occupying one end, Doug Bracewell's only option was the dismantle the other, which he did

Best Test Bowling Performance

Doug Bracewell
6 for 40, second Test, Hobart

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.

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 here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2012, 3:02 GMT

    WTF about Phillander 5/15

  • Garry on February 21, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Coastaltown I remember England getting hammered by Pakistan, when was that again? If you think currently England is better than Aussie then you have your head in the sand.

  • Luke on February 21, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    @Jeremybc and @TheMightyBradburn - If the pitches in England were so-called: 'green tops also', then why on earth did India's bowling attack of Sharma, Sreesanth, and Praveen Kumar not perform as admirably? The pitches were not green tops in England, but provided an even contest between bat and ball. The scores in Hobarth were as follows; 150, 136, 266 and 233. Don't be ridiculous in comparing the playing conditions. As for 'wandering into the wrong awards ceremony', Jimmy Anderson was nominated for his 5 for 56 in the Lords' Test, and Stuart Broad for his 6 for 46 at Trent Bridge. Having watched all of the aforementioned Test Series' I feel I am in a more -than-qualified position to make a valid and constructive comment.

  • Dummy4 on February 21, 2012, 4:28 GMT


    I have never said anything on here before, but then again, no ones ever made such an ignorant statement before.

    "Aussie are far superior to the England team regardless what the rankings say"

    Forget the rankings - there were 5 test matches in 2010/11 called the Ashes - you might have heard of them. The result as 3-1 and your "superior" team suffered three defeats by an innings. Before than in 2009, you lost 2-1 in England.

    Beaten convincingly home and way and lower in the rankings - there is really no argument- im telling you that you're wrong and the England team at the moment is far, far, far superior.

    G'Day Mate!

  • Kenso on February 21, 2012, 2:12 GMT

    MoM award was on this occasion voted on by the fans. This will never happen again as most of Australia voted for new sensation Dave Warner rather than the guy who took 6 for 26 and won a historical test match for NZ. I think Bracewell is most deserving because of the batting line up he faced and because NZ dont really have a great support cast of bowlers. Steyn was good but hes playing in a world class side expected to win. NZ win came from nowhere and was only made so by Bracewell

  • Andrew on February 21, 2012, 2:10 GMT

    the_wallster appears to have wandered into the wrong awards ceremony. This one was for a performance by an individual bowler in an individual Test ceremony. Nominations of a bowling attack for an entire series will not be accepted. ps. the batting lineup you mention has now led India to eight consecutive defeats away from home during which time they exceeded 300 once in 16 innings.

  • Jeremy on February 21, 2012, 1:11 GMT

    the_wallster The pitches in England are green tops also. Furthermore, Australians are quite good on pitches with seam AND bounce compared to Indians who can't even handle bounce OR seam. As the recent Indian Tour of Aus proves, bowling out that 'great' batting line up of India on seaming conditions isnt that hard for a good bowling outfit. Bracewell has just smashed over the Australians in their our backyard and that is far superior. ON top of that, the context of the game was such that he did this against the odds, when defeat was eminent.

  • Matt on February 21, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    @Gagg apart from the last time they played each other when England were away from home and beat Aus by an innings and plenty repeatedly. you do remember that, right? It wasn't all that long ago.

  • Vishal on February 21, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    This does not make any sense. If the Test batting award went to Tendulkar for standing up to Steyn then the Test bowling award should go to Steyn. Isn't that how Tendulkar's award was justified: perfect combination of batting and bowling, then why leave the 'perfect bowler' out.

  • Garry on February 20, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    the_wallster a link to one of these great Englishman bettering 9/60 in a game away from home against arguable the best team in the world, Aussie are far superior to the England team regardless what the rankings say.

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