Cricket: Wayward Australia cave in to Cairns: Taylor tinkers but Kiwi seam quartet is too harmonious for fellow specialists

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The Independent Online
Australia 229-6 v New Zealand

BARRING a characteristic piece of obstruction from Mark Taylor, New Zealand rode roughshod through the top of the home order in Perth yesterday as Australia slipped a notch or two from their post-Ashes pedestal.

The position at the close of the rain-curtailed opening day of the first Test emphasised the unpredictable nature of Test cricket. Prior to their dismissive treatment of England last summer, lest it be forgotten, Australia were held to a 1-1 draw in the Trans-Tasman Trophy series in New Zealand, where Graham Gooch's side had won convincingly the previous winter. Now, sent in to bat by Martin Crowe, Allan Border's men were sitting less than comfortably on 229 for 6, a goodly bulk of those coming from the consistent bat of Taylor, whose judicious 64 spanned four hours.

The left-hander was merely a helpless bystander, however, while Chris Cairns was dispatching his opening partner, Michael Slater (10), and the out-of-form David Boon (0) with successive deliveries following the loss of the morning session. It was the all-rounder, too, who eventually removed Taylor, bowling him off the inside edge. By the time inferior light had caused stumps to be drawn half an hour early, Cairns had gleaned 3 for 36 from 20 overs.

Exploiting the overcast conditions with no little expertise, the New Zealand seam quartet of Cairns, Danny Morrison, Murphy S'ua and Willie Watson turned the Australian innings into a stuttering affair. Steve Waugh (44) made merry before Dipak Patel lured him into snicking a catch to wicketkeeper Tony Blain, yet only while the other Waugh, Mark, and Taylor were adding 63 for the third wicket was the stranglehold ever threatened. Morrison put paid to that uprising by trapping Waugh leg-before with a faster inswinger, then picked up Allan Border via a rash slash to second slip.

Not for the first time, however, Ian Healy and Paul Reiffel held fast, frustrating New Zealand much as they had done at Leeds and Old Trafford during the summer, putting on 31 without further alarm.

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M A Taylor b Cairns 64

M J Slater c Patel b Cairns 10

D C Boon c Rutherford b Cairns 0

M E Waugh lbw b Morrison 36

* A R Border c Rutherford b Morrison 16

S R Waugh c Blain b Patel 44

+ I Healy not out 30

P R Reiffel not out 16

Extras (nb3 lb6 b4) 13

Total (for 6) 229

Fall: 1-37 2-37 3-100 4-129 5-164 6-198.

To bat: C J McDermott, S K Warne, G D McGrath.

Bowling (to date): Morrison 22.4-3-71-2 (nb-1); Cairns 20-4-56-3 (nb-1); Watson 17-9-27-0; Su'a 14- 2-43-0 (nb-1); Patel 6-0-22-1.

NEW ZEALAND: B Pocock, A H Jones, M J Greatbatch, * M D Crowe, K R Rutherford, D N Patel, C L Cairns, * T E Blain, M L Su'a, D K Morrison, W Watson.