From losing the toss on, most things that could have gone wrong in Brisbane did. It was the full deck of an underdone bowling attack, injuries, a spin bowler who got taken to, questionable captaincy, batsmen in the headlights and ending up with some bad luck on the umpiring front. It took until the last partnership for the Australians to finally become rattled.
Australia’s win-loss record in their last 27 Tests at the Gabba is 20-0. Their last defeat here was in 1988, against Fire on Babylon era West Indies. It is not an easy place to visit, most sides get humiliated there, but this was particularly brutal.
Once Southee departed, the bowling attack showed an impotency not seen since the days of Richard de Groen and Murphy Su’a battling away against the odds on the 1993 tour.
That Australian second innings was something you wanted to turn your eyes away from; there was nowhere to go. The second test starts on Friday.
The batting showed more hope for the rest of the series. Although it was that period late on the second day when New Zealand lost 4 for 16, after a good start, that was the major factor in ensuring the draw became a remote prospect. Latham, having otherwise looked the part, lost concentration, taylor looked like a golfer toying with remodelling his swing, McCullum did not know how to play, and nothing went right for Neesham. The test was lost there.
Amongst all this was Kane Williamson. Three centuries in four tests in 2015. His knock in the first innings was reminiscent of Allan Border in the mid-1980s; standing a class above, while all those around him struggled. There is not much to say about him that has not been written over the last few days, other to note that he is now officially New Zealand’s best ever batsman.
There was more solidity in the second innings when conditions were a bit tougher, and that was a really important innings for McCullum on a personal basis.
There is now a fair bit of wound licking to take place. Neesham is off home in an ambulance, and it is hard to see Southee playing in Perth. There is a decent amount of Trent Boult mojo to rediscover, and you wonder whether he too is carrying some residual niggle.
A feature of the this side in recent years has been the ability to bounce back, but this will be the biggest challenge.
There is now a fair range of selection possibilities on the table, mainly around the balance of the bowling attack. It may involve giving test caps to one or more players called Mitch. But Mitch McClenaghan is a risky solution to a bowling injury crisis.
If you can’t beat ‘em……