Cricket Australia XI 0 for 376 (Finch 214*, Carters 156*) v New Zealand
On Wednesday the New Zealanders were trumpeting their superior preparation for the first Test against Australia. On Thursday they failed to take a single wicket against the Cricket Australia XI as Aaron Finch and Ryan Carters batted throughout the day and demoralised the New Zealand bowlers on the first day of their final tour match at Blacktown in Sydney.
By stumps, Finch had recorded his maiden first-class double-century and was unbeaten on 214, while Carters had cruised along to 156. The total was 0 for 376, hardly the kind of final warm-up Brendon McCullum wanted for his bowlers a week out from the first Test at the Gabba. It did not help that Tim Southee bowled only three overs before leaving the field with an upset stomach.
New Zealand were also without Trent Boult, who had been rested, but the rest of their likely Test bowlers were present and accounted for. By the close of play, McCullum had used nine bowlers as desperation combined with a desire not to overwork the frontline Test bowlers, with Ross Taylor and wicketkeeper BJ Watling the only ones not to roll their arm over.
Nothing worked against Finch and Carters, who were only part of the CA XI because they had been overlooked by their states for the current round of Sheffield Shield matches. For Finch especially this was a significant achievement; despite being a key man in Australia's ODI and T20 teams, he entered this game averaging less than 30 in first-class cricket, and without a first-class hundred in Australia since 2010.
Victoria had preferred the uncapped opener Travis Dean to Finch for their Sheffield Shield outing against Queensland at the MCG, but there can now be no doubt Finch will be part of the next round of Shield cricket. While the state players faced pink balls in preparation for the day-night third Test against New Zealand, Finch showed that his skills can translate from white ball to red ball.
He reached his hundred - the fourth of his first-class career - from his 168th delivery and moved on to a double-century from 263 deliveries. By stumps, Finch had struck 18 fours and five sixes, and he had outstanding support all along from Carters. It was the fifth first-class century of Carters' career, brought up from his 177th delivery. He finished the day with 16 fours.