Australia v New Zealand Tests
Australia cruise to Gabba victory
NZ collapse sees Australia storm to 1-0 series lead with 208-run win
Andrew Ramsey at The Gabba
9 November 2015, 09:00 PM AEST
The good humour that has characterised New Zealand's resurgence as a cricket power under Brendon McCullum will be tested like rarely before, after they fell to a hefty defeat in the opening Test and their skipper was denied a deserved century by a dubious umpiring call.
WATCH: McCullum unlucky to be dismissed
While the dominance that Australia displayed for all four and a bit days at the Gabba was unchallenged and their 208-run win sealed in an extended morning session an inevitable result, it did not come without an air of unpleasantness.
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The eyebrows that were raised by the lbw decision that sent the Black Caps best batsman Kane Williamson on his way under the ominous clouds of Sunday evening shot even higher when McCullum was deemed to have been caught in the slips for 80.
His dismissal, which ended a sparkling run-a-ball innings dotted with 10 boundaries and a pair of sweetly-hit sixes, came in the midst of a late-order Kiwi collapse that put paid to any hope of them holding on for a draw, with the match finishing with more than 62 overs remaining in the day.
It also was shown to be palpably incorrect as the ball rebounded from McCullum's leg, with the captain unable to challenge the verdict because the two reviews that each team is allowed per 80 over session had been utilised in the previous 78.2.
It left McCullum, who has won acclaim for the bright yet belligerent spirit that he has imbued into his team, to thump his bat in annoyance and little time to regain his sunny disposition before post-match media commitments as the Black Caps lost 4-7 in three overs of chaos.
WATCH: Mitch Marsh takes aim at a hat-trick
In the end, the Black Caps lived their philosophy of positive cricket in scoring 153 from 35 overs on Monday morning, but were undeniably outplayed across every session of a Test to hand Australia a 1-0 lead in the three-match Commonwealth Bank Series.
McCullum had earlier served early notice that the daunting target and the seemingly impossible match scenario would not tempt him into abandoning the feisty, fearless mode of batting that has been the Black Caps' philosophy under his captaincy.
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Josh Hazlewood's second ball of the morning was marginally wide and a touch short and McCullum, as if opening in a Twenty20 fixture, swatted it through backward point in an unmistakable show of intent.
While the New Zealanders had bravely spoken of chasing the additional 362 needed for a history-making win when play resumed on the final day, any pretence of that likelihood was removed when Ross Taylor succumbed in the morning's fifth over.
Taylor has not looked at ease so far on this tour, and was again caught out by pace and bounce. Hazlewood's bouncer was met with a languid hook shot that connected only with the wrist band on the former NZ captain's right glove, and ballooned obligingly to second slip.
McCullum's response was to attack with even greater urgency, posting a half century with a defiant blow off Lyon that cleared the sightscreen and saw the ball nestle among the folds of white tarpaulin that further helps batsmen see the ball.
Not that McCullum needs much help.
WATCH: Highlights of Brendon McCullum's brilliant 80
The same couldn't be said for all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, whose last innings of this tour – he is returning to New Zealand having succumbed to the recurrence of a back injury – was a stark contrast to that of his captain.
Neesham provided solid support in his 33-ball stay that added 40 to the Black Caps total, of which the left-hander contributed three. But he was also unable to handle the pace of Mitchell Johnson, fending one-handed at a delivery that homed in on his rib cage.
WATCH: Neesham no match for Johnson's pace
For all the difficulties Joe Burns has endured in his first Test match in the unwanted fielding position at short leg, it's unlikely he'll ever be gifted a simpler catch than the one floated gently to him from the splice of Neesham's bat.
With the innings unravelling around him, McCullum refused to be swayed from his counter-punching method and soon had Johnson in his sights.
A scorching cover drive for four was followed by a remarkable swivel pull shot to the fast bowler's anticipated response, and it sailed beyond the backward square leg fence at the same time as a length of sponsor's hoarding removed itself from the upper level grandstand and crashed on to the vacant seats below.
Even the fixtures were ducking for cover as McCullum flexed his considerable muscles.
But just as quickly as the contest heated up, so was it doused.
Australia wrapped up their 208-run win before lunch on the final day // Getty
BJ Watling made the mistake of playing back to Lyon, and while the degree of spin extracted by the Australian and the height at which it struck him on the thigh pad convinced he and McCullum to review the dismissal, the ball tracking technology confirmed Richard Illingworth's verdict.
It was to prove a costly referral, as it left NZ without any means by which to appeal a howler in the two-and-a-half overs until the second new ball became due, and it was in that window that the Black Caps skipper was robbed blind.
A ball from Marsh that jagged back into him, and lobbed towards the slips where Smith made smart ground to snare it with hands resting on the turf.
McCullum's reaction told an immediate tale as he struggled to hide his fury when umpire Llong raised his finger and indicated it was a clear catch, just in case there was suspicion he had been adjudged lbw.
But with the television replays showing the ball had contacted leg and not bat, the Kiwi captain had every reason to lose his trademark good humour.
Even more so when Doug Bracewell was pinned lbw by Marsh's next delivery, which rendered NZ's cause beyond hopeless at 8-243, having lost three wickets for the addition of a single run in the space of an over and a bit.
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That became 4-7 when Tim Southee succumbed to the new ball, his immediate use of the newly-minted set of reviews suggesting another blue had been made but the audio evidence, as opposed to the visual, convicting him and adding to the bitter taste in the tourists' mouths.
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They have four days to rediscover their bright-eyed, bushy tailed approach to Test cricket before the next Test begins in Perth, where Australia's pace attack will feel even more at home.