Australia retains Chappell Hadlee trophy in a very strange game of cricket

Richard Dinnen - Queensland Editor |

Steve Smith saved Australia in Cairns (Cricket Australia)
Steve Smith saved Australia in Cairns (Cricket Australia)

Australia had a thumping win over New Zealand in Cairns on Thursday night to retain the much-coveted Chappell Hadlee trophy.

The second of three one day internationals under lights featured soft wickets and batting collapses, a crucial innings from Steve Smith, and some of the worst batting ever seen in international cricket.

New Zealand won the toss and sent Australia in to bat, a decision that seemed inspired when the home side collapsed to be 5-44, giving NZ a big chance of leveling the series after their loss on Tuesday night.

But they had not reckoned on Steve Smith, who played what would once have been described as a ‘captain’s knock’.

Perhaps that’s not fair to incumbent skipper, Aaron Finch, whose spot must be in doubt after another failure.

Smith made 61 from 94 balls, setting up the possibility of a score Australia could defend.

Bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood put on an inspiring 47 run partnership, remaining not out at the end, 38 and 23 respectively.

It was a remarkable recovery, given Australia had been 8-117 when Smith fell in the 36th over.

Even so, New Zealand must have thought they were a chance, given their relatively good form with the bat on Tuesday.

But their top order failed too, and they had no-one to make the required fighting recovery.

Opener Martin Guptil was caught in the first over, edging outside off for 2. The rot set in. It did not go away.

Next ball, in a farcical passage of play, both batsmen finished up at the same end, but Australia missed what should have been the easiest of run outs.

The Kiwis steadied, but they could not make runs, at some stages scoring less than one run an over.

Sean Abbott replaced Cameron Green in the side. He began his spell with an incredibly rare double-wicket maiden.

But there were bizarre moments. Spinner Adam Zampa gave Kiwi skipper, Kane Williamson, a rank full toss that should have been smacked out of the park.

Williamson missed it and was adjudged out LBW after a review. New Zealand was reeling at 4-33.

There would be no Kiwi rally.

Five runs later, Daryl Mitchell went to reverse sweep Zampa, a shot beloved of ODI batsmen, but not always successful.

Mitchell went, LBW, and the Kiwis were well up the creek at 5-38.

There was a steady procession of NZ batsmen back to the sheds. Tim Southee heading off after being bowled by Zampa for 2 (Richard Dinnen)

The procession of NZ batsmen trudging back to the grandstand slowed for a time, raising talk of a thrilling finish such as we saw in game one on Tuesday.

It was not to be, and NZ were bowled out for 82 from 33 overs, a 113-run loss.

The Kiwis narrowly avoided beating their lowest ODI total of 64, made against Pakistan in Sharjah in 1986.

It was a miserable night for New Zealand, the result allowing England to jump ahead of them into first place in the International Cricket Council world ODI rankings.

Australia will relish the win, and the retention of the Chappell Hadlee trophy, but there’s little comfort for the home side tonight.

Its top order failed, again. It had to rely on its bowlers to bat them to a decent total.

The ODI captaincy remains in doubt, after Aaron Finch failed again with the bat.

However, his strategy in the field was a winner, with bowling changes that created breakthroughs.

Ultimately, Australia owes the win to its bowlers, and to former skipper, Steve Smith.

Uncomfortably, for Australia, the ODI captaincy issue remains the “elephant in the room” talking point among fans and commentators.

The Chappell Hadlee trophy win will not quieten that conversation.

Australia 9-195

New Zealand all out 82

Game three will be played in Cairns on Sunday

Captains Aaron Finch and Kane Williamson with the Chappell Hadlee trophy (Richard Dinnen)