Cricket: Strike threat overshadows Australian bowlers' efforts

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New Zealand 217

Australia 32-1

Australia made some outstanding catches as they dismissed New Zealand for a modest 217 - but the opening day of the second Test in Perth yesterday was overshadowed by the growing likelihood of a players' strike.

Mark Taylor's team put aside thoughts of a possible 11-day strike next month in pursuit of a pay claim to hold a succession of difficult chances and deflate the struggling tourists. At close of play, Australia were 32 for 1, still 185 in arrears, after Taylor was trapped leg before wicket for two by the left-arm pace bowler Shayne O'Connor without playing a shot.

Taylor and Australia's other first-class cricketers are to vote on whether to to give their players' union, the Australian Cricketers' Association, the authority to call an 11-day strike next month. Relations have soured over the past month after the Australian Cricket Board twice rejected the union's demands for a greater share of revenue.

It was an eventful day for Taylor, who walked to the wicket under floodlights after officials reacted to the worsening light by switching them on for the last session. It was the first time a Test match has been played under lights.

Taylor had led by example in his fielding at first slip, where he took two sharp chances. Despite Australia's acceptance of every chance, New Zealand's captain Stephen Fleming must have hoped for a bigger total after winning the toss in ideal batting conditions. Only the all-rounder Chris Cairns and the middle order batsman, Craig McMillan, delayed their demise with half-centuries.

McMillan paid a heavy price for his fluent 54 when a short-pitched delivery from the fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz fractured a bone in his right thumb. The Australian fast bowler Simon Cook celebrated his Test debut with two wickets.

New Zealand won toss

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings

B A Young c S Waugh b Kasprowicz 9

B A Pocock c Healy b Cook 15

A C Parore c Blewett b Reiffel 30

*S P Fleming c Blewett b Warne 10

N J Astle c Healy b Reiffel 12

C D McMillan c Taylor b Kasprowicz 54

C Z Cairns c M Waugh b Warne 52

D L Vettori not out 14

S B Doull c Taylor b Warne 8

S B O'Connor c S Waugh b Cook 7

G I Allott b Warne 0

Extras (nb3, lb3) 6

Total 217

Fall: 1-12, 2-31, 3-51, 4-72, 5-87, 6-161, 7-187, 8-197, 9-214.

Bowling: Kasprowicz 20-9-40-2; Reiffel 20-6-46-2 (nb2); Cook 10-5-36- 2; Warne 22.4-3-83-4 (nb1); Blewett 2-1-9-0.

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

*M A Taylor lbw b O'Connor 2

M T Elliott not out 22

G S Blewett not out 7

Extras (nb1) 1

Total (for 1) 32

Fall: 1-3.

To bat: M E Waugh, S R Waugh, R T Ponting, I A Healy, P R Reiffel, S K Warne, M S Kasprowicz, S H Cook.

Bowling (to date): Doull 3-1-13-0; O'Connor 4-1-9-1; Cairns 4-2-8-0; Vettori 2-1-1-0.

Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and George Sharpe (Eng).