Nathan Lyon bowls against New Zealand.
Nathan Lyon (right) finished with figures of 4-43 as New Zealand were skittled for 179. Image by AP PHOTO
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Lyon demolishes Black Caps as Australia retain trophy

Ben McKay March 3, 2024

Nathan Lyon has spun Australia to victory in the first Test against a feeble New Zealand at the Basin Reserve, retaining the Trans-Tasman Trophy for another three years.

Australia won the Test by 172 runs in a contest that will be remembered for Cam Green’s unbeaten first-innings 174, a breakout performance as the 24-year-old looks to cement his place at No.4.

Green was the only man capable of a century in Wellington, where the Lyon-led Australian attack suffocated New Zealand on their home patch.  

Cameron Green
 Cameron Green earned rich praise after scores of 174 not out and 34 batting at No.4 for Australia. Image by AP PHOTO 

Starting day four at 3-111 and chasing 369, the Black Caps were adamant they could pull off their best-ever fourth innings chase.

Instead, they collapsed, losing 7-85 as Lyon tallied his fourth 10-wicket Test haul, the spinner finishing the second innings with 6-65.

The result was plain from the moment Lyon swapped to the Vance End to bowl into the wind.

The 36-year-old claimed three victims in his first 10 deliveries from the south, beginning with the key wicket of Rachin Ravindra.

Ravindra resumed on 56, with fans hoping for a defiant century that would justify his ‘next-big-thing’ status and push New Zealand closer to their first home Test win over Australia in 31 years.

Rachin Ravindra
 New Zealand’s big hope Rachin Ravindra departs early on day 4, dismissed by Nathan Lyon. Image by AP PHOTO 

He lasted just seven balls against Lyon before falling to a well-set Australian trap, looking to cut a wide and short delivery but spooning his shot to Green at point to depart for 59.

Lyon struck again three balls later, dismissing new batsman Tom Blundell (duck) in the same manner as the first innings – attempting to flick a leg-side ball off his pads, only to be caught after an inside edge.

In his next over, Lyon claimed a five-for by deceiving Glenn Phillips (1) in flight, the Kiwi dangerman trapped in front when looking to defend a quicker ball.

“He’s a captain’s dream,” Australian captain Pat Cummins said of Lyon.

“There’s a real sense of calm out there when you know you’ve got someone that good on a wicket that’s giving him a little bit of help.

“It always felt like he was in control … we had Plan B, C, D that we could go to as well but never really felt like we had to.”

The Kiwi tail exposed, the Black Caps appeared in no mood to hang around, with Scott Kuggeleijn (26), Matt Henry (14) and Tim Southee (seven) all dismissed while attempting to score boundaries.

Pat Cummins
 Pat Cumins (c) didn’t need his Plans B, C and D with Nathan Lyon the go-to fourth innings bowler. Image by AP PHOTO 

Will O’Rourke – pulled from a bowling stint on Saturday due to hamstring tightness – made it out to bat, watching Daryl Mitchell (38) fall for the last wicket, caught and bowled by Hazlewood.

The match turned on day two, when Green and Hazlewood combined for a 116-run 10th-wicket stand to push Australia’s total to 383, before New Zealand were dismissed for 179 that afternoon.

“It was probably the difference, that last-wicket partnership,” Black Caps skipper Southee said.

“(Green) played an absolute blinder, for a young guy to come in and play the way he did, a chance-less 170-odd … it took the game away from us.”

Of the Black Caps, two in particular deserve credit: Phillips – for his first-innings 71 and a career-best turn with the ball, taking 5-45 as Australia made just 164 in their second innings – and paceman Henry, who took 5-70 and 3-36.

With the packed international schedule only permitting a two-Test series, Australia’s win means they cannot lose the series and will retain the Trans-Tasman Trophy.

With New Zealand’s next Tests against their arch-rivals not scheduled until the summer of 2026-27, Australia’s grasp on that piece of silverware will extend into a fourth decade.

The Black Caps haven’t held the trophy since 1994, enduring a tortured run since then which includes just one Test victory – at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval in 2011.

They can at least snap that run and draw the series next week at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval, where the series concludes with the second Test, beginning on Friday.