Thank goodness for small mercies...or maybe not.

This is the good/embarrassing cricket news, and an indication of why New Zealand has such an awful test record against Australia.

The opening stand of 81 by Martin Guptill and Tom Latham at the Basin Reserve yesterday is the best New Zealand has managed against Australia since 1993, when Mark Greatbatch and John Wright put on 111 in Wellington.

Time to break open the champagne? Definitely not.

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While Australia's innings have invariably got off to a flyer, New Zealand have been dire. A passing parade of openers put New Zealand into an immediate tail spin time and time again.


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The vast majority of these men have come and gone with no fanfare, leaving a trail of averages in the mid to low 20s. In some ways, Martin Guptill's dismissal in the second innings of the current test said it all. Just as things looked promising, he got out to a swipe across the line.

In the context of this game, a partnership of 81 on a batter's wicket was nowhere near good enough.

In comparison, the list of Aussie openers over the past 23 years includes greats of the game - Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Mark Taylor, David Warner and co. - who repeatedly put New Zealand on the back foot.

And the numbers show it. In the same timeframe Australia have had three double century opening stands against New Zealand and five century partnerships with Australia averaging 51.80 for the first wicket since 1993 against New Zealand, the Black Caps just 24.14.

The wider consequences are just as significant, from the way New Zealand's middle order batsmen are exposed to the new ball and fresh fast bowlers, and the psychological damage power hitters like Hayden and Warner inflict.

The opening partnership comparison not only sums up a lopsided transtasman cricket rivalry, but goes a long way to explaining why New Zealand struggles so badly against cricket's enduring superpower.

Opening woes

Last century opening stand v Australia: 111 - Greatbatch/Wright, 1993
Number of opening stands since - 54
Number of opening stands worth two runs or less - 8
Average opening partnership v Australia since 1993 - 24.14
Average opening partnership v all other nations since 1993 - 31.12
Century stands against other nations since 1993 - 14
Australia's average opening partnership v NZ since 1993 - 51.8