Australia sweeps N.Z., retakes No. 1


Australia re-established itself as the No. 1 test cricket nation when it beat New Zealand by seven wickets on Wednesday, sweeping the series 2-0 and clouding commemorations of Brendon McCullum’s last international match.

Joe Burns made 65 as the anchor of the innings and Steve Smith scored an unbeaten 53 as Australia reached its winning target of 201 four overs after lunch after resuming on the last day of the second test at 70-1.

Australia needed only a draw to win the two-match series and reclaim from India the top test ranking. Instead, it made its accession more emphatic by delivering a victory which followed its win by an innings and 52 runs in the first test.

Burns, who made 170 in the first innings, was out just before lunch as Smith claimed an extra 15 minutes in the first session in an effort to seal victory.

After batting conservatively for more than three hours, Burns was forced to go on the offensive and hit two consecutive fours before he was bowled by Trent Boult.

Usman Khawaja (45) was the only other wicket to fall Wednesday, caught by McCullum at slip from the bowling of Tim Southee. The catch was McCullum’s 198th in tests, a record for a New Zealander.

The New Zealand captain retired after this match, ending his international career at 34 after playing 101 consecutive tests, 260 one-day internationals and 71 Twenty20 internationals.

McCullum said there was some sadness as he ended his 14-year career.

Speaking directly to his teammates, McCullum said “we’ve had some fun over the last two or three years, I reckon.”

“We’ve achieved some pretty cool things and, hey, we’ve lost one or two games as well. But we’ve got our soul back . . . and for the rest of my life I’ll remember the time that we’ve had playing for New Zealand.”