Second Test Match

Australia v New Zealand

Peter English

At Adelaide, November 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 2004. Australia won by 213 runs. Toss: Australia.

Having given as good as they got before being blown away in the second half at Brisbane, New Zealand faced five days of relentless punishment at Adelaide. Australia's performance was cruelly efficient; New Zealand could find no improvement in the four days' rest between Tests.

Langer began the first day with a boundary off Martin and ended it with a century that even he called "gritty" - a term he usually despises when used to describe his batting. With the Adelaide weather approaching its most scorching, and the pitch looking as enticing to batsmen as ever, Australia kept the same side while New Zealand opted to strengthen their bowling. The off-spinner Wiseman, on the tour with this match in mind, was preferred to McMillan, who failed twice at Brisbane, while the left-arm seamer Franklin, recovered from the groin strain that ruled him out of the First Test, replaced Mills.

But Franklin overpitched far too often, and in the second over Langer hit him for four boundaries, a display repeated before stumps during Franklin's second over with the new ball. New Zealand's fast bowlers failed to take a single wicket in the match: the ten Australian wickets to fall were shared by Vettori and Wiseman, although Warne took only three of the 20 New Zealand wickets.

Langer and Hayden took their combined opening-partnership record past 4,000 runs with their 13th century stand, and the batting almost became a carnival: Martyn and Clarke were the only two of the top eight not to reach half-centuries. Hayden stood his ground when caught by the bowler Wiseman - and the video umpire was consulted to give an easy decision; Ponting again looked in too much of a rush to make his first hundred as captain; Lehmann, narrowly missing a home-ground hundred, found another strange way of getting out when bowled by Wiseman off his pads playing outside leg stump; Gilchrist faced some tricky moments against Vettori before freeing his arms, and Warne hit out as the declaration approached.

Vettori's five-wicket haul was New Zealand's highlight, but his second only came when Langer, who brought up his double-century with one of three sixes to go with 25 crashed fours, departed at 445 for four after 499 minutes and 368 balls at the crease. Vettori talked about copying India's performance here the previous year, when Australia opened with 556 and lost by four wickets, but that dream ended quickly. The crucial wicket came when Fleming, having played his one fluent innings of the series, was caught behind off McGrath, who led the way with four wickets. But all the front-line bowlers made telling contributions, and Warne broke the untrodden ground of 550 Test wickets when Franklin played back and was lbw.

Leading by 324, Ponting decided against the follow-on and ordered tactics to crush any possible fightback. The top four plodded to 139 from 56 overs, sparking unusual hurry-ups from the crowd to a home captain. Ponting even batted on four overs after lunch on the fourth day, from which he and Martyn made four: arithmetically neat but turgid to watch. "We've entertained a lot better than any other side in the history of the game, but with one two-hour period it's all over the papers," Ponting said doggedly. "We achieved what we wanted to achieve."

Australia did then turn it on, producing a bowling performance that Fleming described as facing "three Richard Hadlees and the greatest leg-spinner of all". Within 21 overs New Zealand were 34 for four and Fleming, the only batsman capable of leading any lengthy resistance, had again fallen to McGrath. He tried to leave the ball alone but it darted back, deceiving not only him but McGrath too, who appealed for an lbw even though the off bail had been dislodged.

Contributions from Oram and McCullum, whose bright attack on Warne centred on lifting him out of the heavy rough, eased the contest into a fifth day, and a half-century by Vettori dragged it into the second session. Australia took six balls to capture the final wicket after lunch. Thereafter, the main interest was in the end-of-series race between Lehmann and Richardson, the slowest men on each team. Richardson broke the tape, but his batting spirit was also torn. He went home, waited a week and then announced his retirement from all cricket. With four failures Richardson had suffered as much as anyone in a series Fleming correctly called a "hiding".

Man of the Match: J. L. Langer. Attendance: 60,689. Man of the Series: G. D. McGrath.

© John Wisden & Co