Australia are in command of the first Test against New Zealand, despite collapsing in the final session on day three at Perth Stadium, after Marnus Labuschagne's purple patch with the bat continued.

Eleven wickets fell at Perth Stadium on Saturday, the excellent Mitchell Starc (5-52) claiming his 13th five-wicket Test haul as the tourists were dismissed for 166 in the first session - Ross Taylor making 80.

Australia were cruising with Labuschagne (50) and Joe Burns (53) at the crease, but slumped from 131-1 to 167-6 by the close, Tim Southee taking 4-63 and Neil Wagner 2-40.

Tim Paine's side, without Josh Hazlewood for the rest of the match due to a hamstring injury, remain in complete control despite that late flurry of wickets, leading by a mammoth 417 runs. 

The Black Caps had resumed in deep trouble on 109-5 and they were soon six down when BJ Watling chopped on to a sharp delivery from Pat Cummins.

Taylor added only 14 runs to his overnight total before edging Nathan Lyon to Steve Smith at first slip - and Colin de Grandhomme was caught by the former Australia skipper on 23 when he contentiously became Starc's fifth victim.

Third umpire Marais Erasmus upheld Aleem Dar's on-field decision to give De Grandhomme out despite it not being clear if the ball had struck the all-rounder on the glove.

Labuschagne got in on the act by bowling Mitchell Santner through the gate with a classic leg break and Lyon ended the innings just before lunch by getting rid of Southee.

David Warner passed 7,000 Test runs – taking him above the great Don Bradman on the all-time list in the process - before falling for 19, the left-hander picking out substitute fielder Tom Blundell with an attempted pull when a short ball from Southee got big on him.

Burns was dropped by De Grandhomme on 24 and played with more fluency after a watchful start to his knock, with the in-form Labuschagne - who scored a third consecutive Test century in the first innings - in great touch at the other end. 

They pressed on after taking tea at 75-1, reaching half-centuries in quick succession, while umpire Dar - standing in a record 129th Test - needed treatment on his knee after a collision with Santner.

Labuschagne was looking ominous until he pulled Wagner straight to Santner at midwicket, while Burns followed after fending a short ball from Southee to Henry Nicholls in the gully.

Smith fell to Wagner for only 14 before a fired-up Southee removed Travis Head and Tim Paine - who failed to score – though Australia are still firmly on top despite the dramatic finish to proceedings.

Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood will not bowl for the remainder of the first Test against New Zealand in Perth.

Hazlewood suffered a hamstring strain during day two and Australia confirmed on Saturday the 28-year-old would not bowl for the rest of the Test.

He bowled just eight deliveries, taking the wicket of Jeet Raval (1), before the injury.

Matthew Wade was used for two overs by Australia, who had reduced New Zealand to 129-6 in response to their 416 to begin day three.

Both teams are a bowler down for the Test, with Lockie Ferguson having suffered a calf strain on day one for the Black Caps.

Steve Smith produced a stunning one-handed catch to remove Kane Williamson on the second day of Australia's first Test against New Zealand, though Mitchell Starc always expected his brilliant team-mate to take the chance.

Starc finished with 4-31 from 11 overs at stumps as the Black Caps were reduced to 109-5 in reply to Australia's first-innings total of 416.

While Ross Taylor will resume on 66 not out on Saturday, Australia have already got the key wicket of Williamson, who fell for 34 when Starc and Smith combined in spectacular fashion.

Former Australia captain Smith flung out his right hand to take a remarkable diving grab at second slip, not that the bowler of the delivery shared the crowd's amazement.

"Unfortunately for him, you sort of expect that from Steve," Starc explained to reporters.

"He's done that a few times. It was fantastic to create that buzz in the crowd and certainly out on the ground for us.

"The big wicket of Kane - being the captain as well - to hang onto him was a big moment in tonight's session.

"It was a fantastic catch, and it's always nice to see the boys hang on."

Starc added: "It happens pretty quick. It was a special grab.

"He's such a good player, whether it be with bat or in the field, you almost, unfortunately for him, expect that he's going to hold onto those nine times out of 10."

It was not all plain sailing for the hosts, who lost Josh Hazlewood to a suspected hamstring injury after he had bowled just eight balls - one of which clattered into opener Jeet Raval's stumps.

The extent of Hazlewood's problem is due to be confirmed on Saturday, with Starc already facing up to the possibility of Australia being one bowler down for at least the remainder of this Test.

"It's never nice seeing anyone go down, especially one of your best mates," Starc added.

"I'm not sure how those scans have come back, hopefully there's some positivity out of that. I guess it makes it tough now with a bowler down. It was for the Kiwis with [Lockie] Ferguson going down.

"The plus side is we've got them five down tonight and hopefully for Josh it's not too bad and, if it is going to keep him out for the rest of the week, it's not too big a break to get that hammy right."

Starc shone with the pink ball in the day-night Test, though admitted he still prefers all-day matches.

Asked whether he wanted all Tests to be day-night encounters given his performance, Starc replied: "Nope. Don't overdo it, I'd say.

"It's great for cricket but I'm still a traditionalist at heart. Don't take too many away from the red-ball game."

Mitchell Starc put Australia in command in the absence of Josh Hazlewood while Steve Smith took a sensational catch to leave New Zealand in big trouble on day two of the first Test.

Marnus Labuschagne fell for 143 after making his third consecutive Test century on the opening day at Perth Stadium, and Travis Head struck 56 in Australia's 416 all out.

Neil Wagner (4-92) and Tim Southee (4-93) stepped up again with Black Caps debutant Lockie Ferguson unable bowl due to a calf injury sustained on Thursday.

New Zealand lost both openers inside two overs of their reply, but their trans-Tasman rivals suffered a big blow when Hazlewood ambled off with a suspected hamstring injury after dismissing Jeet Raval. 

Starc came to the fore late in the day-night contest on Friday, Smith diving to remove Williamson (34) in spectacular fashion as the left-arm paceman took 4-31 to reduce the tourists to 109-5 at stumps.

Ross Taylor will resume on Saturday unbeaten on 66 with New Zealand trailing by 307 and BJ Watling yet to get off the mark.

Labuschagne put away a couple of glorious drives after Australia resumed on 248-4, but Wagner ended his fifth-wicket stand of 76 with Travis Head by bowling the in-form number three around his legs.

Head looked in great touch in a positive knock, finding the boundary frequently before driving Southee to Mitchell Santner in the covers.

The Black Caps bowled with discipline after lunch, and Raval, used more than he would have anticipated in the absence of Ferguson, dismissed Pat Cummins for 20.

Starc added a brisk 30, smashing Santner for six over long-on, and captain Tim Paine a patient 39 before both were dismissed by Southee, with Australia all out on the stroke of tea.

New Zealand got off to a nightmare start to their reply under the lights, Tom Latham caught and bowled by Starc without scoring in the first over and Hazlewood cleaning up Raval with only his fourth ball.

Taylor joined Williamson at the crease with the tourists in the mire on 1-2, and they would have been relieved to see Hazlewood walk off after pulling up in his second over.

The current and former captain had to contend with some hostile short stuff from Cummins and Starc, but they weathered the storm under pressure and Taylor struck Nathan Lyon for three boundaries in an over.

There was no review from Australia when Williamson appeared to feather Cummins behind, but Smith took off to his right to grab a stunning one-handed catch to remove the prolific skipper - ending a stand of 76.

Although Taylor brought up a hard-earned half-century, Starc strangled Henry Nicholls caught behind down the leg side and generated late swing to bowl nightwatchman Wagner first ball in a great spell to leave New Zealand on the ropes.

Australia star Glenn Maxwell will make his return to cricket this month and lead Melbourne Stars into the new Big Bash League season.

All-rounder Maxwell announced he would be taking a short break from cricket to address "difficulties" relating to his mental health during Australia's T20I series against Sri Lanka at the end of October.

The Stars, who lost to Melbourne Renegades in the BBL final last year, confirmed the 31-year-old had joined their pre-season camp ahead of their first match in the competition against Brisbane Heat on December 20.

"We're pleased to see Glenn in green and ready to lead our side with a big season ahead," said Stars coach David Hussey.

"He's an incredible talent and a key part of our club but health and wellbeing comes first and it's important that he's been able to take some time away to focus on that."

After an initial absence, Maxwell has been stepping up his schedule, playing club cricket and training with the Victoria Sheffield Shield squad.

He has scored three centuries and had a further seven fifties for Australia in T20 cricket and is also expected to be involved in the Indian Premier League auction later this month.

Maxwell recently told reporters he had felt "mentally and physically ruined" from living out of a suitcase and believed spending four or five years on the road with his cricket commitments had taken its toll.

New Zealand have been dealt a blow with Lockie Ferguson unable to bowl for the rest of the first Test against Australia due to a calf strain.

Making his Test debut, Ferguson suffered the injury on day one in Perth on Thursday.

The paceman had bowled 11 overs for figures of 0-47, but that will be the end of his involvement with the ball in the series opener.

"INJURY UPDATE: An MRI scan has confirmed a right calf muscle-tendon strain for Lockie Ferguson which will prevent him bowling in the remainder of the 1st Test, although he is available to bat," the Black Caps wrote on Twitter on Friday.

"Awaiting a further report which will inform the next steps of his recovery."

Australia finished the day at 248-4 after Marnus Labuschagne made an unbeaten 110.

Marnus Labuschagne says "riding the wave" has been the key to his success after the Australia batsman scored a third consecutive Test century on day one of the series against New Zealand.

Labuschagne's purple patch continued on a slow-scoring deck in Perth, the number three reaching stumps on 110 not out with Australia 248-4 in the day-night encounter.

Don Bradman and Charles Macartney are the only other Australians to have scored three successive hundreds in the longest format.

Labuschagne also became the fourth-fastest Australian to score 1,000 Test runs and the number three says staying in the moment has enabled him to spend so much time in the middle.

"No hundred is easy, but today there was definitely patches where scoring really dried up completely and you just had to be patient and trust you were going to come out the other side," said the 25-year-old.

"It's about riding the wave, not trying to get too high when you are going well, keep everything consistent, keep it process-driven in terms of your mind.

"It's great to get runs, but just making sure you are doing your routines, keeping that clear mind on the field and from there you're just playing the ball as it comes. It's making sure you put a real high price on decision making."

Test debutant Lockie Ferguson went for a scan after suffering a calf injury on a searing hot day and Labuschagne says Australia must try and make the tourists' bowlers suffer in the field if they are a bowler short.

"I think one of the boys said when we came back in that he [Ferguson] pulled up with an injury, but me and [Steve] Smith didn't even know," the centurion said.

"It's a massive advantage they do have an all-rounder [Colin de Grandhomme] in their side, so that probably does lighten the load but it's a massive advantage if we can really bat well tomorrow and keep them out there.

"Batters, we've just got to keep putting runs on the board and with our world-class bowling attack, it gives them the upper hand."

Neil Wagner said New Zealand can only cross their fingers and hope debutant Lockie Ferguson has not bowled his last ball in the first Test against Australia.

The Black Caps paceman pulled up with a calf injury on day one at Perth Stadium after bowling just 11 overs.

Ferguson went for an MRI scan to discover the extent of the damage, leaving the tourists a bowler down as Marnus Labuschagne (110 not out) made a third consecutive Test century.

Wagner, who took 2-52 as Australia closed on 248-4 in the day-night contest, felt for Ferguson as New Zealand wait to discover how serious his injury is.

The seamer said: "It's gutting, isn't it. It's pretty heartbreaking and I know he'll be devastated.

"We'll all get right behind him and hopefully it's not too bad. We haven't heard anything back yet so hopefully it's good, or better news than what everyone is expecting."

Wagner added: "Hopefully we'll find out [the results] pretty soon. Fingers crossed it's not too bad, he's a quality player and we would have loved to have seen him bowl more."

New Zealand, already without left-arm seamer Trent Boult due to a side strain, will assess Ferguson's fitness prior to Friday's play in the series opener.

 

Marnus Labuschagne continued his stunning form with a third straight Test century as Australia made a strong start against New Zealand in Perth.

After winning the toss, Australia ended Thursday on 248-4 in the day-night contest, which is the first of three Test matches between the teams.

When he was on 95, Labuschagne, who had gone past 1,000 runs in only his 12th Test earlier in the innings, smashed a six off Mitchell Santner over long on.

He calmly saw out the day from there, finishing on 110 not out from 202 deliveries with 14 boundaries and that one maximum, and will return on day two alongside Travis Head (20no).

Labuschagne's exploits came after he recorded scores of 185 and 162 against Pakistan last month.

Neil Wagner (2-52) provided the main resistance for New Zealand, who lost Test debutant Lockie Ferguson to a calf injury and will hope the problem is not serious after being a bowler light for the final 22 overs.

Opener Joe Burns rued his decision not to appeal after being given out lbw to Colin de Grandhomme for just nine in the 13th over, replays showing the delivery would have missed leg stump.

David Warner could not replicate his epic partnership with Labuschagne from the Pakistan series as he fell for 43, sending a low full toss back to bowler Wagner, who dived forward to take a key scalp.

It meant Warner remains tantalisingly short of Don Bradman's Test haul of 6,966 runs, now six adrift.

But Labuschagne did find a partner in Steve Smith, the pair putting on 132 for the third wicket.

That crucial partnership should have been thwarted only for Smith to be dropped by Tom Latham at second slip off the bowling of Ferguson while on 19, Ross Taylor unable to gather the rebound.

Smith eventually fell for 43, though he had occupied the crease for 164 balls by the time Wagner had him caught by Southee.

New Zealand took the new ball as soon as it became available and Southee claimed his first wicket when he bowled Matthew Wade for 12, a superb in-swinging delivery doing the job.

Head survived an lbw appeal and a dangerous moment where he inside-edged past his own leg stump, but he gained in confidence from there and ended the day with four boundaries.

Labuschagne was the constant presence at the other end and he will have his sights set on a huge score as Australia's patience approach gave them the edge after an intriguing first day.

Australia have appointed former England assistant Scott Wisemantel as their new attack coach.

Wisemantel worked closely with Eddie Jones over 18 months up until the end of this year's Rugby World Cup, which saw England reach the final before losing to South Africa.

Australian Wisemantel will now return home to work with new Wallabies boss Dave Rennie, who has replaced Michael Cheika.

The 49-year-old has also had roles in Japan and France, with this being his first position back in Australia since working with the Waratahs in 2010.

"I'm really looking forward to returning home to Australia after 10 years and for the opportunity to work alongside Dave Rennie," Wisemantel said after signing a four-year deal.

"I've learnt a few things from working with various programmes around the world and it's given me another perspective on how to view the game as an attack coach.

"Historically, the Wallabies have been innovative in how they play the game and how they attack so I want to bring that to the table.

"There's a good group of players with some exciting talent coming through, which will create competition for spots amongst the current crop."

Wallabies general manager Chris Webb thinks luring Wisemantel, who worked as a skills coach with the national side earlier in his career, should be seen as a significant move as they look to build a set-up that can end a 20-year wait for a World Cup win.

"Scott's return to Australia is a huge coup for the Wallabies," Webb said.

"He's got great experience and has had success with club sides in Europe as well as with other international sides, but I also know what he's like as a person and as a coach and he will add tremendous value to the group.

"Dave has been closely involved in the appointment of Scott and I know those two guys will complement each other really well."

New Zealand are monitoring Trent Boult's fitness ahead of the first Test against an unchanged Australia side at Perth Stadium.

Boult has been troubled by a side strain and could miss the day-night contest, which starts on Thursday.

Batsman Ross Taylor (thumb) and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme (abdominal muscle) are set to feature in the first of three Tests between the trans-Tasman rivals.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson said of Boult's availability on the eve of the match: "We're going to have another look today before deciding anything for Thursday.

"I think you look at it as a long-term decision in terms of this whole series. He has tracked really nicely and felt really good on Tuesday."

Lockie Ferguson could make his debut in the longest format after the paceman missed out in a 1-0 win over England.

"It’s exciting we've got Lockie in our squad to consider him," said Williamson. "It's exciting to have a guy in our camp who can bowl at that speed."

Australia have gone with the same side that completed a whitewash of Pakistan.

"We've been playing some really good cricket, happy with the way it's going so we're trying to get a consistent team together and as I touched on after Adelaide, the great thing is we've got guys that are performing really well," Australia skipper Tim Paine said.

"That's what we wanted so we're going to go with the same team."

 

 

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani is confident Australia and England will tour the country in the coming years as they prepare for a first Test on home soil since 2009.

Pakistan face Sri Lanka - the last team to visit over a decade ago - on Wednesday in Rawalpindi, the opener in a two-game series that also includes a Test in Karachi.

Mani insists Pakistan are not planning to play future series on neutral grounds, with England "very supportive" ahead of a possible tour.

"We are due to play England in 2021-22 and we are in serious discussions with them about coming to Pakistan," Mani told ESPN Cricinfo.

"So far, they've been very supportive, so I fully expect they will come and play their cricket in Pakistan. 

"Similarly, Australia, their chief executive has been to Pakistan and he's gone back with a totally different perception from what he thought it was like."

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali, meanwhile, has said the series opener against Sri Lanka is a huge moment for the country.

"It's a moment to rejoice, not only for the players but the whole Pakistan nation," he said, in quotes reported by Sky Sports.

"We had a tough series in Australia and the way we lost there was disappointing. Moving forward, we see this home series as an opportunity and advantage to turn things around.

"We will try our best to fix our mistakes and improve wherever we had been lacking.

"We have outstanding talent in our squad. They have potential and, if we implement it, results will be good."

Steve Smith is backing Melbourne Cricket Ground curator Matt Page to deliver an acceptable wicket for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand.

The final match at the MCG before that contest - the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia - had to be cancelled on Saturday due to an unsafe pitch.

Umpires called off day one after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia promised to ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" for December 26, though, and Smith has no doubt Page will do the necessary hard work.

"I'm sure they'll produce something good for us on Boxing Day," the Australia superstar said ahead of the first Test in Perth this week.

"It's a really fine line with that wicket. Pagey is a very good curator - he'll be working as hard as he can to try to get a wicket that is suitable for bat and ball.

"These guys have a really tough job. They've tried a lot down in Melbourne but not been able to get something that is a bit more bowler friendly.

"They're going to work hard over the next couple of weeks to get us a good wicket for Boxing Day."

A dangerous pitch has forced the MCG's final match before the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand to be cancelled in Melbourne on Sunday.

Preparations for the December 26 Test were thrown into chaos after the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia was suspended on Saturday.

Umpires decided to call off day one of the match due to an unsafe wicket, after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia (CA) released a statement, ensuring there will be a wicket of "international standard" ready for the Boxing Day blockbuster as organisers and curators were left scrambling.

The teams returned on Sunday but after a morning inspection it was agreed for the match to be abandoned, despite extensive work from the ground staff.

While a different strip will be used for the Australia-New Zealand Test, it has sparked cause for concern ahead of the trans-Tasman fixture.

"We won't be losing the Boxing Day Test," Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said. "I understand there is disappointment about the Shield match being abandoned but I've spoken to Stuart Fox [Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive] yesterday and today.

"The wicket being used for the Boxing Day Test is a different wicket to the one used yesterday and I've got no doubt that by the time we get to Boxing Day in a couple of weeks from now the wicket will be in perfect order for a Test match."

"I applaud the MCC for trying to prepare a wicket with more life in it," Pakula added. "It has been criticised in recent years for being too favourable to batsmen. The club is trying to find more balance between batting and bowling and they will keep working on that not just this year but in years ahead."

Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Alistair Nicholson added: "The right decision has been made. When player safety comes into it there's no debate from our point of view."

The opening Test between Australia and New Zealand starts in Perth on December 12.

Cricket Australia will ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" ready for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand after Saturday's play at a Sheffield Shield match was abandoned due to unpredictable bounce.

Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were each struck multiple times by bouncers on day one of the clash between Victoria and Western Australia, forcing the umpires to step in and call a halt to proceedings because of the danger posed by the pitch.

Play is due to resume on Sunday - WA were 89/3 at the time of the suspension - at 10:00 local time (23:00 Saturday GMT), with Cricket Australia focused on ensuring there are no such problems for the second Test with New Zealand.

"We're very disappointed at today's play being abandoned in the Marsh Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Western Australia," Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations Peter Roach said.

"But we also acknowledge that there have been two previous Shield matches at the MCG this season without incident.

"The MCG groundstaff have more than two weeks to ensure the Test surface, which is a different pitch strip to the one being used in this match, is of international standard.

"We will seek to better understand the issues that resulted in variable bounce at the MCG on Saturday. We will also work closely with MCG groundstaff in the lead up to the Test match.

"The safety of our players is always our highest priority. The decision to suspend play and roll the wicket in an effort to address the variable bounce was the correct one and I applaud umpires [Phillip] Gillespie and [Geoff] Joshua for the decisive action taken."

The Boxing Day match of 2017 was marred by pitch issues of a different nature, with a drop-in surface providing next to no help for the bowlers as Australia and England meandered to a draw in the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia's Trans-Tasman Trophy series with New Zealand starts in Perth next Thursday.

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