Besides being really pleased for Ryan Harris in getting his opportunity to represent the Test side, it's especially satisfying to see him walk away from his debut with a valuable contribution.
Starting the 5th day with Brendon McCullum and Daryl Tuffey, it was essential the boys got the early breakthrough with one of the two. Firstly well done to Brendon on what was a confident innings in a tough position for his side.
He didn't hang around too long, but I do give credit where it's due and I really thought he batted excellently.
Fortunately Ryano found the edge of McCullum with one that skidded onto him with some steep bounce. Michael Clarke took a fine catch at 1st slip. It was followed soon after with Tim Southee playing a daft drive before being caught yet again by Pup with another one that flew through to him, and his reflexes were sharp.
Ryano picked up his fourth as he dismissed Brent Arnel LBW. His match figures were 6/119 at an average of 19.83. That's a fine start to his career and having Ryano get this invaluable match experience is only benefiting us as we wait for Hilfy and Sids to return, along with our current players building their reputations.
Doug Bollinger didn't have the success that he did in the first innings but was still tidy as he picked up 2 wickets and 2.96 rpo. He picked up 7 wickets for the game and Douggie ideally set us up to go for the kill after rolling the Black Caps over cheaply in the 1st innings. So well done to Douggie B on that marvellous effort in the 1st innings. He's certainly becoming a Test bowler.
One man can't be neglected in my analysis of this victory. That is Phillip Hughes!
He looked confident in the first innings but got out to one of those wild cut shots. Not in the 2nd innings! He dominated the Black Cap bowlers and pulverised them.
Simon Katich decided to just chill out at the other end as he remained cautious to just hold the fort while Phillip let rip at the Black Caps.
Phillip's strike-rate ended up at 114.66, while Katto's was drastically different at 27.69. Quite a funny observation but it got the job done. That is where Katto is a smart cricketer. I like Phillip's aggression. I reckon Watto would have adopted a similar approach in knocking off the required runs and I liked the tactic they used.
One guy to attack, the other to remain cautious. It worked well as often these run chases of low targets can be very difficult to approach.
In his wild 86* not out, Phillip blasted 12 fours with 1 six. That was what I like to see and even though he will probably bow out again once Watto returns, he played a fine innings that should remain clearly in the selectors minds. It just strengthens things for the future for when Katto decides to hang up his cap.
As for Katto, he is Mr.Consistent.
And of course Punter will be pleased the two of them wrapped it up without him needing to waltz out to the middle.
Rightly so Michael Clarke was player of the match after scoring his highest in Test cricket with 168. It was an innings that defined the challenges of Test cricket and to see my views on his innings refer back to my post for Day 1 of the Test. Given the challenges he has been faced off the field, he definitly proved his ability to focus on the task at hand.
And of course Marcus North deserves recognition after a career saving century. Of course we want to see more from the very experienced cricketer, but he needed it and it was special to see the two players in our side under the most pressure rise to up against the elements victoriously.
1-0 is the standing of the two match series.
I have noticd a few people on various forums commenting on Phillip to remain in the side. Here are some of the observations I have come across:
Michael Hussey should be dropped as he doesn't offer any value to the team.
Shane Watson is not a long-term opening option.
Phillip Hughes needs more match experience.
Marcus North should be replaced by younger blood despite his century.
These are obviously reasonable observations but I think they lack long-term thinking and I actually think I understand the NSPs thinking behind their tactics.
Firstly on the Hughes saga. Simon Katich probably only has a few more seasons left in him before I reckon he decides to move aside to give a younger player an opportunity. Keeping this in mind I do reckon keeping Phillip as a regular in NSW Sheffield games is good, while still keeping him exposed to the Test side's movements is wise. I can see Watto becoming a more seasoned cricketer in the middle order due to his consistency and rapid development as a mature cricketer, but if we need him at the top of the order, well, he needs to be there. In ODI's it is certainly his spot, but like a guy like Tendulkar does, Watto could do the opening in ODI's and bat in the middle order in Tests. Any Indian guys reading this, calm down, I am not comparing them just comparing the tactical aspect of this.
Michael Husseys value? Yes, he is a fine fielder in the gully and he has done great things for the Baggy Green but his consistency is far from present in his Test game. This is a frustrating thing as his ODI game is still brilliant and he is totally invaluable to the side. But I can see how in Test cricket a number of people have become possibly 'impatient' with him. I still think he must remain in the plans for the Ashes, as should Marcus North because of their experience they offer.
But post-Ashes - the result pending - things will be looked at closely. The good part is that the future looks good.
We have batting stocks with players that are in form with experience or ambition, young exciting cricketers coming through the ranks and with Douggie B, Ryano, Mitchell, Clint, Ritz and of course Hilfy and Sids to return from injury, our future side looks very strong in all departments.