After Australia’s thumping win over New Zealand at Perth by 296 runs in the first of the three-match Test series, captain Tim Paine commented that the opposition’s incessant short-pitched bowling had a Bodyline feel to it.
Having conceded a first innings lead of 250 runs, Kiwi pacers led by Neil Wagner tested the formidable Australian batting order with some fiery short-pitched bowling.
Eight of the nine wickets that fell in the third innings of the Test were to short balls and Australia’s Matthew Wade was struck multiple times on the body as the Kiwis bowled to a packed leg-side field.
Australia returned the favour during the final innings by peppering the New Zealand lower-order with quick bouncers.
“It was great theatre, wasn’t it,” Tim Paine said. “We were just having a laugh before when we were bowling at their tail, we think it’s going to be a bit of bodyline for a lot of the series.”
The Australian captain was referring to the infamous 1932-33 Ashes series when the English bowlers came up with a short-ball tactic to try and intimidate the opposition batsmen.
“There’s been a lot of talk about it, but regardless of the pace of the two teams they are very, very skilled at executing that ball and they set great fields for it. So it’s a completely different challenge from what you get from other teams. They’re very good at it and they’re very clever, ” added the wicket-keeper batsman.
Paine acknowledged that Neil Wagner specializes in short-pitch bowling and cheekily warned that a few bouncers might be hurled his way when he does come out to bat in this series.
“What I do know is our boys [the bowlers] won’t be getting any slower as the series goes on,” Paine said. “You’ve got to respect a guy (Wagner) who can run and bowl 50 overs and absolutely have a crack. He looks like the sort of bloke you’d love to have on your team.
“Of course he’s going get a few back, that’s a given. I just thought it was all played in the right spirit, and our boys have got a lot of respect for the way he goes about it. This game was bloody hot, and I think he bowled about 50 overs and 200 bouncers. He’s clearly got a big heart, so hats off to him – I thought he did bloody well.”
His counterpart Kane Williamson suggested that they employed the short ball as a tactic because of the nature of the surface at Perth and that it wasn’t necessarily his team’s plan-A.
“It was a tactic on a pitch like this when it did age and there were cracks and the bounce become a little bit more variable then it proved to be effective. It’s not for everywhere,” he said. “It’s also something that the likes of Neil Wagner have been very successful doing for us in his role for a long period of time. So I don’t know if it says any more than what we’ve had in this match but we’ll wait and see.
“Now we go from here to the MCG and we’ll have to adjust to those conditions and come back to the red-ball. So the guys will look forward to a couple of days reflecting and then prepare for the next match.”
The second Test will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 26.
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