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New Zealand vs. Australia: Winners and Losers from 1st Test

Rob LancasterFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2016

New Zealand vs. Australia: Winners and Losers from 1st Test

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    Australia celebrate a wicket early on Day 4 in Wellington, New Zealand.
    Australia celebrate a wicket early on Day 4 in Wellington, New Zealand.Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Australia took a giant stride toward top spot in the ICC Test rankings with a comprehensive victory over hosts New Zealand in the first Test in Wellington.

    The tourists bowled out their trans-Tasman rivals for 327 on Day 4 at the Basin Reserve to win by an innings and 52 runs.

    With just one Test left to play on the tour, Australia cannot lose the series against their neighbours. 

    However, Steve Smith's side also know anything but a defeat in the second match—which gets underway on Saturday in Christchurch—will see them overtake India as the leading Test nation in the world.

    Here Bleacher Report has picked out the winners and losers from the opening Test.

Winner: Adam Voges

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    Adam Voges scored his second Test double century for Australia.
    Adam Voges scored his second Test double century for Australia.MARTY MELVILLE/Getty Images

    Adam Voges was unsurprisingly named man of the match after making 239 in Australia's only innings in the Test.

    When the experienced batsman was eventually out, caught and bowled by off-spinner Mark Craig on Day 3, he had compiled 614 runs between dismissals in Test action.

    His impressive streak, which stretched back to a home series against West Indies at the end of 2015, saw his Test average rise into three figures.

    Comparisons to the great Sir Don Bradman, however, made Voges feel uncomfortable.

    Per Brydon Coverdale of ESPN Cricinfo, the 36-year-old was relieved to get out: "I can just get on with playing cricket, I guess. The boys had a bit of fun taking the mickey out of me in the change-rooms but it's all good. [The average] was never going to stay there, it won't stay there, I know that."

    Voges' career average in the format stands at just 97.46.

Loser: Richard Illingworth

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    Umpire Richard Illingworth signals for a no-ball against bowler Doug Bracewell.
    Umpire Richard Illingworth signals for a no-ball against bowler Doug Bracewell.Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    A brilliant knock from Adam Voges built up a huge first-innings lead for Australia, who were eventually bowled out for 562.

    However, the Test may have played out differently had the right-handed batsman not received a seriously big reprieve when he had just seven runs to his name.

    Shouldering arms, Voges was bowled by a delivery from seamer Doug Bracewell. That, though, wasn't the worst decision to happen during the passage of play.

    Umpire Richard Illingworth cancelled out the wicket by calling Bracewell for a no-ball. Much to New Zealand's annoyance, replays quickly showed part of the bowler's foot had actually landed behind the crease.

    Still, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum refused to use the official's howler as an excuse for the final result, per Andrew Wu of the Sydney Morning Herald.

    In the same article, McCullum suggested the International Cricket Council should consider taking the no-ball decisions away from the on-field umpire: "Maybe that's something that needs to be looked at just to make sure that you get the right decision all the time."

    Illingworth, meanwhile, will be the third umpire for the second Test.

Winner: Josh Hazlewood

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    Josh Hazlewood put Australia on the front foot on the first morning of the Test.
    Josh Hazlewood put Australia on the front foot on the first morning of the Test.Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Josh Hazlewood made sure Australia didn't waste the opportunity to bowl first on a pitch offering early assistance to the seamers.

    He claimed three wickets on the opening morning on his way to finishing with first-innings figures of four for 42 from 14 overs.

    Hazlewood added two more wickets in New Zealand's second knock, not only helping his side clinch victory but also proving how he had learned the lessons from a tough Ashes tour to England in 2015.

    The 25-year-old, who ended that tour out of the Test XI, told Andrew Ramsey of Cricket Australia's official website: "I tried probably a little bit too hard in England, and tried to bowl that miracle ball all the time."

    Now the leader of a new-look attack, Hazlewood showed the value of just putting the ball in the right areas during his devastating opening spell.

    He immediately put the Black Caps on the back foot on Day 1, with the hosts bowled out for a below-par 183 in 48 overs.

Loser: Brendon McCullum

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    Brendon McCullum will not have fond memories of his 100th Test appearance.
    Brendon McCullum will not have fond memories of his 100th Test appearance.MARTY MELVILLE/Getty Images

    Brendon McCullum's 100th Test didn't quite go according to plan.

    It all went wrong for the New Zealand captain once he saw opposite number Steve Smith win the toss.

    With the chance to bowl first on a pitch that began green before being dried out by the Wellington weather, Australia never looked back.

    McCullum was out for a seven-ball duck on Day 1, while second time around, he contributed 10 before Mitchell Marsh trapped him leg before wicket with what turned out to be the last ball on the third day.

    He will be hoping for better fortunes—both for himself and his team—in not only the final Test of the series but also the last of his international career.

    While McCullum will receive plenty of accolades before, during and after the match in his adopted home of Christchurch, the ideal retirement present would be a win over Australia.

Winner: Usman Khawaja

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    Usman Khawaja registered his fourth Test ton for Australia.
    Usman Khawaja registered his fourth Test ton for Australia.MARTY MELVILLE/Getty Images

    Like a rolling stone (and the band the Rolling Stones, for that matter), Usman Khawaja's fine run of form with the bat just keeps on going.

    His knock of 140 in Australia's first innings made sure the tourists did not waste the excellent efforts put in by their bowlers on Day 1.

    Khawaja combined with Adam Voges in a 168-run stand for the fourth wicket before being trapped leg before wicket by left-arm seamer Trent Boult.

    As pointed out by journalist Malcolm Conn on Twitter, the left-hander's scores in Test cricket since Nov. 2015 are as follows: 174, nine not out, 121, 109 not out, 144, 56, 62, 104 not out, 70, 14, 50, 44, 140.

    He will hope to continue piling on the runs in the final Test of what has been a busy but highly productive season in all formats.

Loser: Jackson Bird

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    Jackson Bird did not quite grasp his opportunity after being recalled.
    Jackson Bird did not quite grasp his opportunity after being recalled.Ross Setford/Associated Press

    With fellow seamer James Pattinson not fit enough to feature, Jackson Bird made his first Test appearance since Aug. 2013.

    The New South Welshman seemed ideal for New Zealand conditions, and captain Steve Smith's correct call at the toss offered Bird a glorious chance to impress on pitch offering assistance.

    However, while new-ball partner Josh Hazlewood starred, Bird struggled to find the consistency required, both in terms of line and length.

    He bowled 10 wicketless overs at a cost of 52 runs during the first innings.

    While much improved second time around—including dismissing Henry Nicholls as he picked up one for 51—it wasn't quite the comeback the bowler would have hoped for prior to the Test.

    Per Brydon Coverdale of ESPN Cricinfo, skipper Smith is hopeful Pattinson will be fit for the second match of the series.

    But Bird could retain his place because of injury concerns over Peter Siddle, with the Australian Associated Press (h/t Cricket Australia) reporting the latter suffered back spasms on Day 3 in Wellington.

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