Day three talking points, Steve Smith, Alex Carey, video, highlights, cricket news 2024


New Zealand is on the cusp of ending a 31-year drought against Australia after completely dominating proceedings on the third day of the Test being held in Christchurch.

The last time New Zealand defeated Australia in a Test match on home soil was in 1993 when Danny Morrison nabbed 6-37 in the opening innings of the match.

Trailing by 94 runs after the opening innings, the Kiwis launched a superb counter-attack to score 372 in their second innings before Matt Henry and Ben Sears routed the Australian top order.

Chasing a target of 279 to sweep the series, Australia was reduced to 4-34 before Mitch Marsh and Travis Head managed to hold sway for the final hour of play on Sunday.

Marsh is unbeaten on 27 from as many deliveries, while Head is not out on 17, with Australia at 4-77 needing another 202 runs for victory.

It is too late for New Zealand to win the Trans-Tasman Trophy back, with Australia securing the series as a result of winning the opening Test of the series in Wellington last week.

But the Kiwis can square the series and the result could well prove pivotal when the next World Test Championship decider is held at The Oval in June, 2025.

Fox Cricket pundit Brendon Julian praised the bowling of Henry, who has 17 wickets for the series, and said the Kiwis have a great chance of ending the drought.

“It was a great day from New Zealand and they have got themselves in a great position to be able to win this Test match,” Julian said.

“New Zealand are well and truly in the box seat, but can they deliver the knockout blow tomorrow? That is the big question.”

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New Zealand's Ben Sears celebrates with teammates. Photo by Sanka Vidanagama / AFP
New Zealand’s Ben Sears celebrates with teammates. Photo by Sanka Vidanagama / AFPSource: AFP


Steve Smith shuffled, played and missed. He crabbed at the crease. And not once did the champion Australian look comfortable before failing again at the top of the order on Sunday.

For the first time since 2014, the star batsman was dismissed LBW in both innings of a Test after man of the moment Matt Henry produced a superb ball to trap him in front for nine.

Similarly to the opening innings when Smith was beaten by a delivery from Kiwi debutant Ben Sears when on 11, the Australian appeared befuddled by the delivery. Adding salt to the wound, on both occasions he appealed the decision, only for the review to show the delivery rattling into his stumps.

“He was crabbing across the crease and the ball nipped back in on Steve Smith,” former New Zealand all-rounder Frankie Mackay said in commentary.

It is just over nine months until Australia hosts India in a highly-anticipated series on home soil but the question remains as to whether the batting order as selected is sustainable.

Smith made the selfless decision to move to the top of the batting order after David Warner’s retirement to open a spot for Cameron Green, who repaid the faith with a stunning century in Wellington in the first Test to secure the Trans-Tasman Trophy for Australia.

But the jury is out on whether the move has worked for Smith, who has made only one half-century since the promotion in Test series against the West Indies and New Zealand.

The 34-year-old was defiant after scoring an unbeaten 91 in Australia’s shock loss to the West Indies at the Gabba in late January, hitting out at critics questioning his form.

“There was a lot of commentary around (how) I’d failed in two or three innings, or whatever it was, (because) I had a not out and two low scores. And now I think I’m averaging 60 as an opener,” Smith said.

“I didn’t really read too much into it. It was just another position. I’ve batted against a new ball numerous times, coming in early, so for me, it is just a position I’m playing and that is it.”

In his eight innings as opener, which includes unbeaten knocks in Adelaide and Brisbane against the West Indies, Smith has now made 171 runs at an average of 28.5.

The concern on Sunday is the manner with which he batted.

He has always shuffled across his stumps, but the extent to which he did so in Christchurch surprised former New Zealand representatives Craig McMillan and Mark Richardson, among others. At least one pondered whether he had any idea where his off-stump was.

It is also the seventh time he has lost his wicket LBW in the last 14 months.

Smith is clearly not alone among the Australian batting order in terms of their struggle for form.

The century from Green aside, a case could be made that the Australian tail has been more reliable than the top order in New Zealand, which is a major concern for the tourists.

And the former ICC Test Cricketer of the Year did provide protection for an extended period through tricky conditions in the opening match of the series in Wellington, which assisted the cause of the eventual match-winner Green.

But the early evidence about the success of his promotion to the top of the order is underwhelming with Australia about to head into a prolonged sabbatical from Test cricket.


New Zealand’s comeback on day three of the Christchurch wouldn’t have been possible if not for another coming-of-age knock by Rachin Ravindra.

After surviving a tricky passage of play on Saturday evening, Ravindra took advantage of the batter-friendly conditions the following morning, helping New Zealand wrestle back control of the series finale.

The left-hander was impeccable down the ground, but didn’t shy away from attacking square whenever the Australian bowlers dropped short. At times it was streaky, but for the most part glorious batting.

“He’s played nicely,” former New Zealand batter Craig McMillan said in commentary.

“He put pressure back on the Australian bowlers. When they missed, he was prepared to take the attack to them. He was prepared to use his feet to Lyon.

“He looks like he’s playing his natural game.”

Playing just his seventh Test match, Ravindra’s batting average at second drop has climbed to 55.75, more than respectable figures for a youngster still finding his feet at international level.

Entrusted with the crucial No. 4 position, he has repaid the selectors’ faith with a double-century against South Africa and now a vital half-century in Christchurch.

New Zealand’s Rachin Ravindra. Photo by Sanka Vidanagama / AFPSource: AFP

Former Australian all-rounder Brendon Julian believes Ravindra has the potential to challenge Kane Williamson’s superb Test record, which includes 32 hundreds and a batting average above 55.

“He’s come out this morning and shown us what he’s got, a lot of talent,” Julian said in commentary.

“I think he’ll challenge Kane Williamson’s record, I think he’s that good. He’s got a long way to go as he settles into his Test career and works out the balance between his stroke play in tough conditions.

“One thing I love about him, he’s got great defence, so he can always fall back on his defence when it’s tricky. He will be the backbone of New Zealand cricket for the next ten years.”

Ravindra fell short of a second Test hundred, edging behind off rival captain Pat Cummins’ bowling for 82, but the 24-year-old had already laid the platform for New Zealand‘s mammoth second-innings total.


Pat Cummins excellence on Sunday may well prove redundant given the failings of the top-order later in the day.

But should New Zealand clinch victory, it will not be due to any fault from the Australian captain, who was outstanding in a couple of facets during the Kiwis second innings.

After bowling Kane Williamson for 51 in the final session on Saturday, Cummins removed opener Tom Latham (73), Rachin Ravindra (82) and counterpart Tim Southee (0) when taking 4-62 from 24 overs.

As the New Zealand broadcast crew noted at the end of New Zealand’s innings of 372, the “most effective bowler that he had was himself”.

He was able to snare Latham with his first delivery of the day, prompting praise from New Zealand all-rounder Frankie Mackay.

“That is Captain fantastic. You need a wicket, you call that man, Pat Cummins,” she said.

He also successfully introduced Cameron Green and Nathan Lyon into the attack later in the day with immediate success, with both bowlers securing wickets with the first ball of their spells.

Pat Cummins of Australia. Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images


It has been a surreal Test match for Alex Carey, who is under increasing pressure to keep his spot in the national side after a lean run with the bat, yet still managed to equal a longstanding Australian record for the number of catches taken in a match.

After throwing his wicket away in the first innings with an ill-judged sweep shot, the South Australian dropped a low catch late on day two at Hagley Oval, handing Black Caps opener Tom Latham a massive reprieve on 59.

The missed chance threatened to be a costly blunder as Latham and rising star Rachin Ravindra extended New Zealand’s lead the following morning, but Carey played a crucial role in the Kiwi batter’s dismissal on Sunday.

Latham was on 73 when rival captain Pat Cummins drew the inside edge, which ricocheted off the left-hander’s thigh guard and sailed through to Carey. On-field umpire Nitin Menon ignores Australia’s appeals, with Carey convincing his skipper to send the decision upstairs, asserting that there were two noises.

Replays confirmed Carey’s suspicions, with a spike appearing on Snicko and Latham departing 27 runs short of a century.

It was ultimately Australia’s only breakthrough of the morning session, with Carey finishing the innings with ten catches, equalling the national record set by the legendary Adam Gilchrist 24 years ago.

An opportunity for redemption with the bat also looms on Monday given the precarious position Australia finds itself in the pursuit of 279 for victory.


To see Marnus Labuschagne bowling bouncers shortly after lunch on day three added a touch of absurdity to a fascinating day of cricket in Christchurch.

The gambit almost worked, with Rachin Ravindra top-edging a hook shot that fell not far short of Josh Hazlewood in the outfield.

Deployed to preserve the energy of Australia’s premier pacemen prior to taking the second new ball of the New Zealand innings, Labuschagne became the eighth bowler used.

But the decision to turn to the No. 3 prompted a question from former Australian fast bowler Brendon Julian, who pondered why Steve Smith was not considered an option.

The Fox Cricket analyst noted that when Smith first entered the Australian side, he was picked primarily as an all-rounder who was more than capable with his leg-spin bowling.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia. Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

It is now just over a decade since the Australian opener secured figures of 4-83 against England in a Test at Lords in July, 2013.

The 34-year-old has taken 19 Test wickets at an average of 53.05 in his career and a further 38 ODI wickets at a rate of 34 per wicket. In T20s for Australia he has secured 17 wickets at an average of 22.

But the last time he rolled the arm over was at Lord’s last year, and that was only a brief cameo. He has bowled only five times in his last 30 Tests, adding two wickets to his tally.

After his cameo at Lords last year, he said that he hoped he would not have to “bowl too much” as he had “not been working on my bowling at all”.

Julian said he had discussed the matter with Smith in passing and said the champion batter told him he was not really interested.

As for Labuschagne, he has taken 13 wickets at an average of 58 in the 50 Tests he has played between 2018 and 2024.


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