CHRISTCHURCH. — Australia sealed a 2-0 series victory over New Zealand to reach the top Test cricket ranking yesterday, but captain Steve Smith was forced to defend their aggressive style as he was fined over a row with the umpires. With Smith smacking 53 off 46 balls, Australia polished off the 131 runs they needed on the last day to reach their 201 target just after lunch in what was New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum’s final Test.
The match had no sooner finished than Smith was charged over Tuesday’s profanity-laced confrontation over an lbw decision that had already seen fast bowler Josh Hazlewood fined 15 percent of his match fee.
The ICC later said Smith was fined 30 percent of his match fee after he admitted showing dissent by questioning the decision that batsman Kane Williamson was not out.
Adam Voges finished on 10 not out, while the only wickets to fall on day five were those of Joe Burns for 65 and Usman Khawaja for 45 as Australia closed on 201 for three to win by seven wickets. The victory confirmed Australia’s superiority after they won the first Test by an innings and 52 runs, and allowed them to overtake India as the world’s top Test side.
“It’s always special when you get to number one in the world. That’s our goal as a team to be number one in the world in every format of the game,” Smith said.
However, Smith also had to dispute suggestions that Australia, often controversial over their uncompromising play and habit of sledging (insulting) the opposition, were cricket’s bully boys.
“I don’t think we’re not nice guys. We play a good hard, aggressive brand of cricket,” Smith said.
“For us it’s about knowing where that line is and myself and Josh Hazlewood have crossed that line in this Test match and that’s not what we’re about.
“Hopefully we can learn from that and continue to develop as a team and get better.”
For New Zealand the drubbing by their arch-rivals put a cloud over the much loved McCullum’s farewell, as their captain made his bow on the world stage after 101 Tests. — AFP.