Vol. 5 Num 279 Fri. March 11, 2005  

Marshall makes NZ's day

Hamish Marshall scored a maiden Test century and Craig Cumming added 74 as New Zealand dominated Australia to reach 265 for three on day one of the first Test here Thursday.

Marshall, in only his third Test innings, and Cumming on debut, restored some pride in the fragile New Zealand side which was whitewashed 5-0 by Australia in the recent one-day series.

At stumps Marshall was not out 103 with Nathan Astle on 29 as Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was left to ponder the wisdom of two pre-match decisions.

The first was the extraordinary move to leave out Brett Lee, who had terrorised New Zealand in the one-day matches, and then after winning the toss Ponting chose to bowl for the first time in his captaincy on a placid pitch.

As the New Zealand innings progressed and the partnerships grew, the batsmen gained in confidence, making a target of 400-500 seem achievable.

"It would be nice if the guys who are in now and the (Craig) McMillans and (Brendon) McCullums could add the runs that we need to be competitive in this Test, and there is some way to get to the total we need to put some pressure on them," skipper Stephen Fleming said.

Marshall showed a maturity beyond his international experience as he steered the ball to all corners of the ground in an innings that so far includes 14 fours and an immaculate six over Shane Warne's head.

"It was a brilliant innings from him. He's had a great summer. He plays the ball so late in good areas, and along with Craig Cumming who deserves a mention it was a good day for a couple of youngsters," said Fleming.

Opener Cumming overcame his lack of international experience to reach 74 in 231 minutes at the crease, falling just three overs before the tea break.

He was given one let-off on 43 when Warne dropped a comfortable chance at first slip off Glenn McGrath, and was eventually dismissed when he mistimed a pull shot off Michael Kasprowicz and it flew to Jason Gillespie at mid-


Relishing Australia's surprise decision to leave out speedster Lee, Cumming and Fleming looked comfortable against the new-ball attack of Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie.

They cruised to 56 before the breakthrough for Australia came with the introduction of Warne, who trapped Fleming leg before wicket for 18.

Marshall and Cumming then shared a 97-run stand to lift New Zealand to 153 for two.

Lou Vincent came and went with a quick 27 and then the experienced Nathan Astle appeared to nurture Marshall through to his century in an unbroken 66 run stand for the fourth wicket.

But there was little in the pitch to enthuse over for the pacemen as Cumming got off the mark confidently with a pull shot for four off McGrath, who bowled 25 overs without success, although he had Fleming dropped by Langer and Cumming dropped by Warne.

Warne had figures of one for 60 off 25 overs, while the other successful bowlers were Kasprowicz with one for 64 and Michael Clarke one for 16.

"It was a very tough decision to leave Brett (Lee) out after the way he's bowled, but the guys who are there have done well over a long period," Ponting said.

MARSHALLING BLACK CAPS: New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall celebrates his maiden Test century on Day 1 of the first Test against Australia yesterday. PHOTO: AFP