CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) - Australia coach Darren Lehmann has praised his team’s refurbished batting order for taking the pressure off a depleted bowling attack by scoring big totals in the test series sweep over New Zealand.
Lehmann’s revamped team wrapped up an emphatic 2-0 victory with their seven-wicket win in Christchurch on Wednesday, which also secured the top ranking in test cricket.
Australia has weathered six retirements since last year’s Ashes series, including opening batsman Chris Rogers, former captain Michael Clarke and all-rounder Shane Watson, and their replacements all played parts in felling the hosts.
Four of their top five batsmen scored centuries in New Zealand, setting up 500-run totals in both Australia’s first innings in Wellington and Christchurch.
New opener Joe Burns was named man-of-the-match for setting up the Christchurch win with scores of 170 and 65, while the re-instated Usman Khawaja capped his golden summer at number three with a knock of 140 in Wellington, his fourth test century in five matches.
“We’ve lost a big chunk of our side in one hit. But they changed around pretty quickly, we took a punt on a couple of players and they did well,” Lehmann told reporters.
”We’ve probably got the better of the conditions batting-wise, but that’s the way it goes in this game sometimes.
“I‘m pleased we’ve made big runs in the first innings. That helps, it certainly gives you more time in the game.”
Australia’s pace bowling stocks, weakened by the loss of spearhead Mitchell Starc to injury before the series, were further tested with injuries to James Pattinson and his first-test replacement Peter Siddle.
But the makeshift attack led by Josh Hazlewood limited New Zealand to a highest innings score of 370.
Siddle and Pattinson both made important cameos while Jackson Bird, recalled in Wellington for his first test in two and a half years, recovered from a slow start to capture his best innings figures of 5-59 in Christchurch.
“It’s certainly a reflection on the depth of bowling,” Lehmann said of Australia’s new top ranking.
”We’ve picked a side with the conditions in mind here, and we’ve got a fair few guys injured at the moment.
“That’s a good sign for us going forward, when we start to get our full quality quicks to pick from. That will put pressure on them as well, coming back. They’ve got to perform to play.”
Editing by Ian Ransom