THE second test between Australia and New Zealand ended in a draw after the home side failed to bowl out the Black Caps on the final day of action at the WACA in Perth.
The match also marked the retirement of Australian quick Mitchell Johnson.
The 34-year old made a cameo performance on the final day, taking two wickets at his old home ground.
The former Alan Border Medallist said it was the right time to pull up stumps on his glittering career.
“I’m really happy with my decision and I just lost that hunger in the end to play out on those tough days – that’s where my decision came from,” Johnson said.
“And that was something I used to really enjoy about Test cricket – the challenge of those really difficult days out there and I just wasn’t enjoying it.”
Johnson believes that while he may have had the capacity to play more cricket at the highest level, his cerebral application was not up to the lofty standards the left armer had set for himself over the course of his career.
“It’s a little bit physical. The body is pretty sore, but it was more just the mental side of things and I just had enough and felt like I couldn’t be the best I could for this team and I didn’t want to continue on at the standard that wasn’t good enough.”
I thought I could help being a senior player and give some advice, but I just felt like I couldn’t compete at this level anymore. I just lost that hunger.”
An atypically batsmen-friendly pitch coupled with rain delays led to the drawn test, which now sees the Aussies taking a slender 1-0 lead into the third test at Adelaide Oval.
The third test marks an historic occasion in international cricket as it will be the first ever day/night five day contest.
Both sides failed to make a big impact with the ball on a pitch that usually favours the quicks, with both teams combining for over 1,100 first inning runs.
The game looked destined for a draw after New Zealand’s incredible 624 first innings response to Australia’s 559, including a 290 knock by man-of-the-match Ross Taylor.
Taylor’s total was the highest individual innings score ever recorded by a touring batsman, and Sportsbet have the former New Zealand skipper at $4.33 to again be the visitors’ top run scorer in the first innings in the third and final test.
As per usual in a Trans-Tasman rivalry, sportsmanship between the nations was again on the agenda.
No Australian shook the hand of Taylor after he was dismissed – an unspoken etiquette of cricket – and plenty of the world’s cricket press, including former Aussie paceman and ABC commentator Dirk Nannes were quick to condemn the home side.
“After the innings – he’s made 290 – not one person from the Australian camp went and shook his hand,” Nannes said.
“In the spirit of the way this game has been played… I can’t help but be disappointed that no one actually went out to him and shook his hand. It’s not that hard is it?
“You don’t have a guy bat for a day and half out and there and just not even acknowledge it. That’s horrendous sportsmanship.”
This is a stark contrast to the reception David Warner received after his double century on the opening day, with almost every Black Cap player shaking the hand of the Aussie opener.
The man at the centre of the controversy said it was a non-issue.
“I got out on the far side of the boundary and they were all congratulating him (fielder) and I was walking off as fast I could,” Taylor said.
“I’m sure it was a coincidence more than anything.”
The Australians declared early on the final day and gave themselves plenty of overs to take the required ten wickets, but in the end could only manage two.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was glowing of his team’s resilience.
“It’s satisfying when you fight your way back to come out with not just a draw but encouraging signs of the steel and resolve and backbone in this line-up,” The Black Caps skipper said.
“It would have been easy to fall over in the first innings, we’ve seen it time and time again but two leaders stood up in the group and played incredibly important innings.”
After staring down the barrel of an unassailable 2-0 series deficit, New Zealand now have the chance to level the series.
McCullum said while it is disappointing they are unable to end the Trans-Tasman series with a win, a draw would be a just result for the visitors.
We came over here with ambitions and expectations of winning a series but if we can’t win, the next best thing is to draw so that’s firmly on our minds.
“We head to Adelaide chasing a result and if we play better, tidying up certain areas, we’ll give ourselves an opportunity.”
“We still want Ws in our column, or at least drawing series, but if we continue playing with as much resilience with the bat and periods [like today] with ball we will earn that respect.”
Despite their strong showing at the WACA the New Zealanders are $5.25 outsiders with Sportsbet to win the last test of the series at Adelaide Oval.
The third and final test between the Australians and the New Zealanders kicks off next week on Friday at the Adelaide Oval on the 27th.
The test marks history in the test cricket arena as it is the first ever day/night test played at international level.
The debut of the pink ball, a combination of the traditional red test ball and the white ODI ball is another big factor in the test – which promises to be one of the most watched tests in recent memory.