Australia’s clean sweep of the summer Test fixtures, after the thrill of retaining the Ashes, has given skipper Tim Paine a unique record after the trials caused by the Capetown ball tampering scandal.
With a mostly settled team performing with bat and ball, Paine has set his sights on next season’s heavyweight home series against India after first touring Bangladesh mid-year.
The Aussies completed their perfect Test summer at the SCG on Sunday, pummelling the Black Caps by 279 runs to take the series 3-0, having also humbled Pakistan 2-0.
It marked just the 10th time in Australia’s 143-year history that it had maintained a perfect record by winning each Test through a summer.
But India looms as a formidable challenge after last summer’s home defeat, with the return bout shaping as a top-of-the-table World Test Championship clash.
“We’ve obviously got our eye on next summer,” Paine said. “It’s a pretty mouth-watering series for players and for fans (against India). It’s hard not to be looking at that.
“We’re certainly a different side to what they played against last year and there is more at stake with the World Test Championship and both teams eyeing off that (2021) final.
“It’s going to be an awesome series. They showed last year they have a pace battery that is going to be every bit as threatening as ours.”
Monday’s finale summed up the season, as Australia’s kings of the summer starred again.
David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne both scored big runs to help the team declare at 2-217 and set New Zealand an unlikely 416 for victory.
Nathan Lyon took 5-50 to make it 10 wickets for the match, while Mitchell Starc claimed 3-25 as New Zealand was dismantled for just 136.
Warner’s 111 was his third century of the series, as it took his tally for the summer to 786 runs at 131.
It is the most by an opener in a five-Test Australian summer, as he cover drove as well on day four in Sydney as he did in his century to start the Test season against Pakistan in Brisbane in November.
Meanwhile man-of-the-series Labuschagne’s 59 marked his seventh score above 50 in eight innings.
It came after his first-innings 215, while his 896 runs at 112 in this campaign are also the most by an Australian in a five-Test summer.
“If you win five home Tests in a row you have done a lot right,” Paine said.
It wasn’t just the five wins, it was the manner in which we did it. The style of cricket we played.
“Marnus in the last 12 months has gone from a player whose selection was doubted to a top-three player in the world.”
The pair’s only blemish came late in the innings when they were both picked up in the same over for running down the pitch and in the danger zone.
They were penalised with five runs added to New Zealand’s first innings score. But when Starc removed Tom Blundell and Tom Latham in the first five overs and Lyon followed it up with two straight wicket maidens, it was clear it would matter little.
Such was New Zealand’s struggle, only Colin de Grandhomme (52) and Ross Taylor (22) scored more than 20 as Lyon and James Pattinson both took screamers in the field.
The 3-0 defeat marked New Zealand’s first series defeat since 2017 against South Africa, and saw Australia replace them as world No.2 in the latest rankings.
HOW AUSSIES FARED IN THE HOME TEST SUMMER
David Warner – nine out of 10
Runs: 786 at 131 (five Tests)
Bounced back from a horrible Ashes tour with a mountain of runs, the highlight of which was an unbeaten 335 at Adelaide Oval.
Joe Burns – six out of ten
Runs: 256 at 32 (five Tests)
Started the season celebrating a Test recall with a knock of 97 at the Gabba but a string of starts followed, ensuring debate about his spot will rumble on.
Marnus Labuschagne – 10 out of 10
Runs: 896 at 112 (five Tests)
An incredible home summer that featured four centuries, including a maiden ton and double-ton. No Australian has ever scored more runs in a five-Test home season.
Steve Smith – 6.5 out of 10
Runs: 254 at 36.28 (five Tests)
Struggled to score freely when confronted with a bouncer barrage from Neil Wagner; a hard-fought 85 at the MCG was the closest he came to three figures this season.
Matthew Wade – six out of 10
Runs: 217 at 43.4 (five Tests)
Failed to post a big score but often found himself hunting quick runs before a declaration.
Travis Head – 7.5 out of 10
Runs: 237 at 39.5 (five Tests)
Stood up in Australia’s hour of need during the Boxing Day Test, posting a vital century to silence conjecture about his position.
Tim Paine – eight out of 10
Runs: 166 at 33.2 (five Tests)
Dismissals: 26 catches, two stumpings
Coach Justin Langer has backed the veteran to continue leading Australia until at least the 2021 Test championship final. Has been fantastic behind the stumps and delivered a captain’s knock of 79 at the MCG.
Mitchell Starc – nine out of 10
Wickets: 29 at 17.44 (five Tests)
Enjoyed a prolific 2019-20 after struggling to crack Australia’s XI during the Ashes. The highlight came in Perth, where a match haul of 9-97 was enough to secure man-of-the-match honours.
James Pattinson – seven out of 10
Wickets: six at 22.50 (two Tests)
Suspended for the first Test against Pakistan because of a homophobic slur then stepped up at the MCG in his first home Test since 2016, twice dismissing Kane Williamson.
Pat Cummins – 8.5 out of 10
Wickets: 20 at 24.10 (five Tests)
Remained Paine’s go-to man whenever Australia needed a breakthrough and produced a couple of contenders for best delivery of 2019-20.
Nathan Lyon – nine out of 10
Wickets: 27 at 21.96 (five Tests)
Enjoyed his most prolific home summer, surpassing the 25 wickets he snagged from six Tests in 2018-19.
Josh Hazlewood – eight out 10
Wickets: 11 at 20.00 (three Tests)
Hamstring strain during the first trans-Tasman Test ended a bright start to the summer.