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New Zealand v Australia: first Test, day one – live

11th over: Australia 25-0 (Smith 17, Khawaja 6) O’Rourke is a bit too short and Smith cuts away for a couple. A few clouds roll over the Basin, Matt Henry is going to continue – Khawaja has soaked him up so far this morning, the seamer hasn’t had a delivery at Smith in his last four overs.

10th over: Australia 23-0 (Smith 15, Khawaja 6) Matt Henry is in fine fettle here. Another maiden, his third of the morning.

9th over: Australia 23-0 (Smith 15, Khawaja 6) Will O’Rourke replaces Southee and gets some steepling bounce in his first over. A skiddy, limby action, he’s an exciting talent and Southee is happy to get him into the game early. Smith glides a late cut wide of point for two runs.

8th over: Australia 21-0 (Smith 13, Khawaja 6) Close! Henry squares Khawaja up and takes the edge but the ball flicks the thigh pad on the way through which means it dies just before it gets to Tom Latham in the cordon! Eeeesht – that was close – replays show that Latham came as close as dammit to scooping that up on the dive, we’ve seen players celebrate those plenty of times before. Latham simply tossed the ball back round to the bowler, he knew it wasn’t clean.

Salt, meet wound. Khawaja gets a thicker edge on the final ball of the over and it flies away wide of the slips for a boundary.

7th over: Australia 17-0 (Smith 13, Khawaja 2) Southee’s turn to tie Steve Smith down at the other end. Smith defends stoically before a huge appeal off the final ball for an LBW… NOT OUT – an inside edge saves The Smudger from an early bath.

6th over: Australia 17-0 (Smith 13, Khawaja 2) Matt Henry works Khawaja over once again, pitching the ball on a postage stamp outside off stump. Usman is watchful, only playing when he really has to. A maiden ensues – proper criggit.

5th over: Australia 17-0 (Smith 13, Khawaja 2) Hear that? That’s the sound of a million Aussie cricket fans purring simultaneously. Southee overpitches a smidge and Steve Smith unfurls a classical cover drive that skims away in the gap for four.

“It’s a little chilly at the Basin, but blue skies advancing. No real movement, but a typical Basin wicket. All set fair.” Have a belter Paul Cockburn!

4th over: Australia 13-0 (Smith 9, Khawaja 2) Lovely maiden stitched together by Matt Henry. He gives Khawaja’s defensive tekkers and judgement a thorough working over but the batter is up to the challenge. There’s a decent amount in this wicket on early evidence, New Zealand will have to make it count before it flattens out.

“Time for business” writes Simon McMahon. “Evening / Morning Jim. Test cricket featuring fierce rivals on a green top on a Wednesday night in February. The night for Test cricket, among other things. Two handsome captains. It’s business time!”

3rd over: Australia 13-0 (Smith 9, Khawaja 2) Southee gets some nibble off the pitch, one nips away from the left-handed Khawaja and another decks back and narrowly misses off stump. There are only two types of leave eh Ussie… Khawaja clips off his toes to pick up a brace and get off the mark. Southee then sprays one well wide of keeper Tom Blundell that is given as byes. Who’d be a keeper.

2nd over: Australia 9-0 (Smith 9, Khawaja 0) Matt Henry shares the new ball and he takes the edge of Steve Smith’s bat twice in his opening over! Both times the Aussie is squared up by a length ball and both times the ball flies in the gap between slip and gully and away for four runs. Glenn Phillips is the fielder at gully, don’t mess with him, that guy is electric in the field.

1st over: Australia 1-0 (Smith 1, Khawaja 0) There’s a suggestion of movement in the air but nothing too dramatic off the pitch in the first over. Smith tickles the fourth ball off his hip and into the leg side to get the first run of the Test match. Beauty! Southee whizzes one off a length past the forward prod of Usman Khawaja. Sun peeping out in Wellington, the Basin Reserve looks a picture.

The players have belted out the anthems. Tim Southee is marking out his run, this is his 99th Test match. He’ll open up with the new orb to Steve Smith. Play!

We’ve got about ten minutes til the start of play. It’s a cliche but the first hour is going to be imperative. New Zealand will want early wickets and Australia will want to alleviate any nagging doubts that their batting card is a bit out of nick, beady eyes particularly on Steve Smith at the top of the opener followed by Marnus and Cameron Green.

A word on Neil Wagner who hung his bowling boots up this week. Such a wholehearted and sinew straining cricketer. I for one will miss him whanging it down the middle of the pitch, not sure Steve Smith will though…

The first three days are a sellout in Wellington and there’s a great buzz around the place (that I can detect through my TV on my sofa in South London). The coverage started with a delightful Anchorman/Alan Partridge ‘stroll n talk’ towards the camera. Someone must be clipping it up as we speak.

Here are the confirmed teams:

Australian XI 1 Steven Smith, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Cameron Green, 5 Travis Head, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

New Zealand XI 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Rachin Ravindra, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Tom Blundell (wk), 7 Glenn Phillips, 8 Scott Kuggeleijn, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Tim Southee (capt), 11 William O’Rourke

Southee calls the coin correctly and sticks the visitors in on a green’un!

“We’ve played enough here to know it’s a good surface, it’s been under covers for the last 24 hours.”

Pat Cummins confirms he would have done the same but says he isn’t too dissapointed as the wickets in Wellington tend to be decent. “I’m not too upset. Some first innings scores have been big here.”

Tim Southee and Pat Cummins have got their blazers on out in the middle… two of the most handsome chaps in world Cricket?

Kiwi pacer Scott Kuggeleijn has been spotted marking out his run up at the ground, so unless he is doing some Mitch Marsh esque jiggery pokery the smart money is on New Zealand going for an all out pace attack and resting the bespectacled tweak of Mitchell Santner.

The toss will be all important, with the pitch greener than a Goblin’s todg… erm ankle and some overhead clouds hanging around it has to be a bowl first morning? The Basin Reserve tends to flatten out though so make it through the first session and there could be runs to be had.

Fair to say there’s already been a bit going on in Wellington this morning… there’s been rain and the small matter of a 4.7 magnitude earthquake. That’s just a tiddler, apparently.

Adam Collins – sometime of this parish and all the time with the resplendent bouffant – is at the ground, it looks a bit mizzly but the forecast is good for the next few days at least.

Hello and welcome to the day one OBO of New Zealand v Australia at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. ‘The War of the Ditch!’ as absolutely no one is calling it. This series is proper appointment viewing – Australia return to New Zealand to play cricket after an eight year gap. Eight years! Neither captain Pat Cummins or searing southpaw Mitchell Starc has hauled on the cream flannels for a match on the green green grass of New Zealand.

The two Test series (Boo!) is hotly anticipated, with ticket sales strong in both Wellington and Christchurch. This is perhaps a reflection on the fact that the Trans Tasman rivals don’t face up that often in the longest format (and aren’t scheduled to meet again until 2026/7) but also because they are two fine Test sides with stardust sprinkled across each XI.

…The New Zealand public, who have just watched the Black Caps beat an understrength South Africa side 2-0, are ready for the challenge of their noisy neighbours, despite the odds. Somehow, from a population of just over five million, most of whom are obsessed with rugby union, the New Zealand cricket side not only won the World Test Championship in 2021 but head the current table (with England languishing down in eighth).

But for all the outstanding, unexpected, success of the New Zealand Test team, the Australians are their brain fart, their soft underbelly, their recurring naked nightmare. The Black Caps have beaten Australia only once in a Test since 1993 – at Hobart in 2011. And they have have lost nine of their 10 home Tests against Australia in the 21st century. They followed on in the 10th, and saved it thanks to bad light and persistent rain rather than any memorable rearguard action.”

Jim here with you for the first few sessions, there’s so much to dig into over the coming hours and days and I for one am positively fizzing to get into it all. In the meantime, here’s one Tanya Aldred prepared earlier – well worth a read of this scene setter as we approach the toss and final team news* in Wellington.

Play gets underway at the Basin Reserve at 11am local/9am AEDT. Please do drop me a line on Email or tweet @Jimbo_Cricket with your musings, it’s always** a pleasure to hear from OBO followers around the globe. Righto, let’s do this shall we?

*Cummins has already named his XI a day early, the confident so and so.

**Almost always. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

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