Coverage of the Australian cricketers' ball-tampering controversy in South Africa has dwarfed the efforts of their New Zealand counterparts to achieve a rare victory against England in this country's first day-night test at Eden Park.

Admittedly rain has dominated the latter match as much as New Zealand, which probably dilutes some interest, but the schadenfreude surrounding an Australian team cheating has an intoxicating capacity for clicks.

Yesterday's Herald analytics show nine of the top 10 viewed stories related to the Australian saga. The blog of the New Zealand-England test was the only one to raise the local flag.

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In fairness to New Zealand's cricketing escapades, it's not often rugby gets bumped out of the top 10.

Even at 9am today, little had changed on the demand front with the story advancing to see Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner demoted mid-test as they crumbled to a 322-run defeat in Cape Town.

The truth is, the news values of the Australian debacle create the "perfect" story for an online audience.

You have a team whose pursuit of playing to the standards of a mythical "line" have been juxtaposed against footage showing a disregard for the nebulous "spirit of the game".

The incident helps massage love-to-hate animosity to the surface. A cache of past misdemeanours, led by the 1981 Underam delivery at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, froth into people's memories.

The thought that the ironically-titled "leadership group" could come up with such a moronic plan - and expect to get away with it - defies belief.

The series has already been mired in sledging and abuse. That caused the tourists to seek utu when their supposedly lethal bowling attack already should have had the capacity to inflict defeat.

Add the fact Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has weighed in, and any number of past players have doth protest too much when comparing the incident to their innocent playing days.


The global impact of the players' actions, with the potential slashing of contracts and endorsement deals, means the story has what the industry terms "legs" for weeks, months and possibly years to come.

In contrast, New Zealand and England are playing a test match in largely good spirit with minimal controversies and an earnest desire to win without external assistance.

This is one of the Black Caps finest test performances, yet they are also-rans in a media world driven by internet hits.

It is an unfortunate example of "nice guys finishing last" regardless of how the test finishes.

However, would you have the New Zealand cricket team any other way?

They can at least sleep easy at night and know they keep sport in perspective. Surely that is a more important message to the community than racking up how many eyeballs you get on a screen.