Australian batting woes, New Zealand, Kiwi’s sledge, bats for sale, Number one

A fan at the Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan has delivered a brutal sledge across the Tasman that hits just a little too close to home.

But it also shows the Kiwis are getting just a little bit cocky as the side is set to overtake Australia for the world No. 1 team on the Test rankings.

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New Zealand appear destined to put the hurt on Pakistan after stumps on day 2 of the Test match with Kane Williamson — the recently crowned number one Test batsman in the world — hitting another century to finish not out on 112 with Henry Nicholls adding 89.

Just three wickets down, New Zealand are just 11 runs short of Pakistan’s first innings score of 297 at 3/286.

But cameras found a supporter that may have been getting too far ahead of themselves.

With a smug smirk, the supporter held a sign reading “Cricket bats for sale. Barely used. Call: S. Smith, J. Burns @ Cricket Australia.

New Zealand appear set to claim the world’s number one Test team ranking and are provisionally ahead of Australia at the moment. The ICC only officially update the rankings at the end of a series.

A win for Australia in Sydney would return the Aussies to the top of the provisional rankings while India can snatch the World No. 1 with a 3-1 win. A drawn series between Australia and India would mean New Zealand stay on top of the rankings.

Kiwi fans have a bit of a short memory as Australia hasn’t lost to New Zealand in a Test match on either side of the Tasman since 2011, the only time in the past 27 years in Test matches, including a 3-0 drubbing in the series between the teams last year in Australia.

Steve Smith only averaged 42.8 in that series.

And Smith was also named the Test player of the decade just last week after scoring more than 7000 runs at an average of more than 65, the best since Bradman.

But the fan may have a point.

It was revealed that Australia’s current dire batting performances are the sides worst in 133-years with scores of just 191, 194 and 200 in completed innings’ against India.

AAP reporter Scott Bailey revealed the team’s average runs per wicket this season (21.50) is the lowest in any home summer since way back in 1887/88.

It also saw Burns dropped after a horror run of outs saw him under fire.

Smith is averaging just 3.33 having scored just 10 runs and he dropped down to third in the Test batting rankings behind Williamson and India’s Virat Kohli.

Williamson hit 251 against the West Indies and 129 in the first Test against Pakistan, as well as the 112 not out in the second Test to take the number one ranking.

Australia have been talking up how Smith can get out of his funk with all the Aussie batsmen looking to bounce back.

“It’s more about the method now,” assistant coach Andrew McDonald said.

“He’s working hard. He’s clearly hitting the ball well.

“Technically (both Smith and Marnus Labuschagne) are ready to go.

“It’s about how they are going to score their runs and how they’re going to combat these tactics from Indian bowlers and captains.

“There’s a challenge there for Steve to rebound, the world’s best players usually rebound and I think he’s in a really good space to perform come Sydney.”

Australia and New Zealand are set to play a five-match T20 series in late February and early March.

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2020 Ballarat Cup | Punters smashed as favourites crash and Kiwis take out the cup

Punters were left reeling at Ballarat as a string of well-backed favourites crashed and burned on a day that a Kiwi combination came good to take the $500,000 feature, the Ballarat Cup, with the outsider Irish Flame.

Trained by the Mornington-based former New Zealand champion jumps jockey Brett Scott and ridden by the Kiwi champion rider Michael Walker, Irish Flame showed all of the toughness traditionally associated with New Zealand stayers to take an attritional Ballarat Cup in a driving finish after the race had been turned into a real stamina test by the front-running Inverloch and Pacodali, who had kicked for home some way out.

Michael Walker returns to the mounting yard aboard Irish Flame.Credit:Getty Images

Irish Flame, a son of the NZ stallion Zed, showed grit and determination to hold on from the late arriving favourite Affair to Remember, trained on the Ballarat track by local handler Dan O’Sullivan, with the Tony McEvoy trained Game Keeper third, also at a big price. So frantic was the finish was that only half a length separated the first six.

The winner, who started at $18, was fortunate to make the field as he was the first emergency but got a run when Power Scheme was withdrawn.

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Superstar back for white-ball series against Kiwis next month

Superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry has been included in Australia’s squad for next month’s white-ball series against New Zealand pending her full recovery from a hamstring injury which cost her a spot in the T20 World Cup victory.

Selectors named a bumper 18-player squad for their three T20Is and three ODIs against the White Ferns, Australia’s first matches since that magic night at the MCG in March.

Perry required surgery after suffering the serious hamstring injury against New Zealand at the Junction Oval. But she has shown all the signs that she’ll be ready for the series, releasing a recent video of her training work in isolation in Melbourne.

“Ellyse is progressing well from a significant hamstring injury and we want to give her every chance to be available for selection, so we’ll continue to monitor her progress over the coming weeks,” selector Shawn Flegler said.

The schedule for the series has matches in both New South Wales and Queensland but given the current COVID situation changes may be required.

And the injury news wasn’t so positive for fats bowler Tayla Vlaeminck, who was ruled out on the eve of the World Cup with stress fractures in her right foot.

After a recent setback, she will miss the series and the entire WBBL and won’t play cricket again until 2021.

“Tayla had a recurrence of right medial ankle pain three weeks ago as she was working through her rehab from the navicular stress fracture she sustained in February,” Australian Team Physiotherapist Kate Beerworth said.

“Her recovery has been trending in right direction but it’s just not going to be soon enough for the demands on international cricket and a busy Big Bash schedule.

“The tricky nature of a navicular injury means it’s more a long-term play and we’ll be guided by Tayla’s symptoms as we look to get her back to full fitness.

“She’s only young and it’s important we look after her future, so we won’t rush anything.”

The squad for the series includes all 15 members of Australia’s triumphant T20 World Cup squad, alongside pace-bowling all-rounder Tahlia McGrath, and quicks Belinda Vakarewa and Maddie Brown.

Australia ODI & T20I Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry*, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa

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Kiwis face anxious wait over coronavirus restrictions as cases grow

“As with our first outbreak, we do have an expectation things will get worse before they get better,” she said.

“Modelling suggests we will still see more positive cases. At this stage, though, it’s heartening to see them in one cluster. As we all learnt from our first COVID experience, once you identify a cluster, it grows before it slows.”

The discovery of four cases in one household on Tuesday shocked New Zealand, which had implemented one of the most successful efforts to restrict the virus in the world and had gone 102 days without community transmission.

It has also thrown into question the timing of the New Zealand election, which is due to be held on September 19.

There are now 17 cases linked to the initial cluster of four in Auckland, and the country has a total of 36 active cases.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Radio NZ on Friday morning that he backed the extension of level three restrictions to contain the spread of the virus but said he wanted the national government to support the city with additional funds to ameliorate the economic cost of a lockdown.

A relatively deserted Parnell Rise as Aucklanders return to level three lockdown.

A relatively deserted Parnell Rise as Aucklanders return to level three lockdown.Credit:Getty Images

“We’ve got at the moment, fortunately, it looks like one cluster but we can’t guarantee that there aren’t other clusters, if you go hard and you go early, you don’t lift it prematurely, because you sometimes lose what you might otherwise have gained,” he said.

“Every New Zealander looks across the Tasman at Melbourne, which is a city pretty much the same as Auckland, sees what happened there, it took them five weeks to respond, we’ve responded as soon as we have detected the cases,” said Goff.

“Go hard and go early worked well for us last time as the prime minster said, and it will work for us again.”

“If we were to go back into level four lockdown, we are looking for what sort of assistance might be available to council as well as the business community.”

He warned a quarter of the city’s work force would be at home under level three restrictions and that half the workforce would be at home under level four restrictions

Level 3 restrictions mean that hospitality and retail businesses can only trade online and provide take away meals.

Auckland accounts for just under 40 per cent of the country’s GDP, and the quarantine measures could wipe $439 million a week from the economy, claims ASB Bank research.

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New Zealand property market defies gravity as Kiwis flock home

New Zealand’s housing market is defying predictions of a slump, for now at least, as thousands of citizens living abroad flock home to the COVID-free nation.

Home values gained 7.4 per cent in June from a year earlier, only slightly down on the 7.7 per cent annual growth rate in May, government-owned property research company Quotable Value said on Wednesday. Prices rose 1.3 per cent over the past three months, taking the average to $NZ738,018 ($696,000).

Auckland’s prices jumped to an average of $NZ1.08 million. Credit:Alamy

New Zealand’s success in eliminating community transmission of the coronavirus allowed it to exit a nationwide lockdown early and resume normal life. That’s attracted many kiwis living overseas back to their homeland, fanning demand in the property market even as an economic slump drives up unemployment and dents consumer confidence.

“A combination of pent up demand following lockdown, plus vast numbers of returning expats over the past few months has contributed to strong attendance at open homes, auctions and tenders in most locations throughout New Zealand,” said QV General Manager David Nagel.

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Kiwis enjoy coronavirus freedom but Jacinda Ardern is bracing for economic turbulence

New Zealand’s government has swung its hastily assembled public information campaign behind an economic push after it’s last active case of coronavirus was cleared.

Previous messaging around social distancing and contact tracing has been pushed to the side, replaced by information around “wellbeing” and “jobs and training”.

The policy pivot from Jacinda Ardern’s government is a remarkable measure of how well New Zealand has fought back the virus.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media

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Since the first case appeared on 28 February, the Kiwi government ramped up to a 51-day lockdown and has now eased off on all restrictions except for border controls.

The pivot is also a sign of the suffering that Kiwis can expect to face in the next phase of the pandemic.

“We’re all enjoying the easing of the disruptions but we can’t mistake that for a sign the upcoming recession won’t be bad. It will be,” ANZ New Zealand chief economist Sharon Zollner told AAP.

“It’s fantastic we don’t have any COVID-19 and people are comfortable, they can go to the rugby, they can go dancing, they can go out and about, and that is worth a lot for wellbeing beyond the economic. 

“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a hard recession. There is a tourism-sized hole in our economy.”

Ms Zollner said international tourism accounted for five per cent of the Kiwi economy.

Her bank’s latest projection was New Zealand’s GDP would be eight to 10 per cent smaller this Christmas than it was last year and that unemployment will be “in the low double digits”.

In last month’s budget, the NZ government predicted GDP will shrink by 4.6 per cent in 2020, with unemployment peaking at 9.8 per cent.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admits much now depends on the ability of Kiwis to retrain and move into other sectors. 

“Horticulture, the dairy industry, they desperately need workers so we need to support people into those jobs,” she told 1News on Tuesday.

“The early signs are that we are on the optimistic side of recovery.

New Zealanders Return To Normal Life Under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 As Country Records No Active Cases

Morning pedestrian traffic returns to Wellington during the first day under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 restrictions

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“Things are coming back into play a bit more quickly but we know it will take time.

“We know people have lost work, be it in tourism or otherwise … we’ll be utterly focused on jobs, jobs, jobs.”

The budget included a $NZ1.6 billion ($A1.5 billion) package towards apprenticeships and trades, noting that Australia will be competing for the same labour market after the establishment of a trans-Tasman bubble.

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