Twenty20 International

New Zealand v Australia

Andrew Ramsey

At Auckland, February 17, 2005 (day/night). Australia won by 44 runs. Toss: Australia.

Australia made it a historic three out of three by easing to victory in the very first Twenty20 international. They had triumphed in both the inaugural Test (against England at Melbourne in 1877) and the inaugural one-day international (same ground, same opponents, 94 years later). Now they beat New Zealand at Auckland's Eden Park, an apt name for what some saw as a new beginning for international cricket - although New Zealand's women had already defeated England's in a Twenty20 international at Hove in August 2004. However, neither side took the game especially seriously, and the sizeable crowd might have been excused for thinking they had been transported back in time. Both teams wore garish body-hugging kits last seen in the 1980s, while the New Zealanders went one stage further and sported all manner of outmoded facial hair, creating a cabaret feel that helped camouflage the fact that - with no senior 20-over competitions in either country - few players had experience of the new format. Australia began unsteadily, losing three wickets in four overs before Ponting and Katich decided authentic strokes rather than baseball swipes represented the prudent approach. Not that they were cautious: Ponting came within one stroke of the first 20-over international century, his unbeaten 98 coming from just 55 balls. It soon became clear that a total of 214 was beyond the New Zealanders. They lost regular wickets and, despite a lusty 66 by Styris, finished 44 adrift. Contrary to expectations, McGrath proved the most expensive of the Australian strike bowlers, Lee the most parsimonious. But it was Kasprowicz who wrecked the New Zealand top order. Despite his success, Ponting was underwhelmed: "I think it is difficult to play seriously," he said. But he added: "If it does become an international game then I'm sure the novelty won't be there all the time."

Man of the Match: R. T. Ponting.

© John Wisden & co.