Game on: Bodyline warning after bruising Aussie victory
Captain Tim Paine has declared 'Bodyline' has returned to Australian Test cricket after a bruising pink ball victory over New Zealand's 'Fake Mr Nice Guys' in Perth.
The fuse has been lit for a fiery trans-Tasman Boxing Day showdown after Aussie tough man Matthew Wade wore countless body blows from Neil Wagner only to throw down the gauntlet to the Kiwi paceman to "keep coming big boy".
The infamous 'Bodyline' legend was formed in the 1932-33 Ashes tour in Australia where Douglas Jardine's English team brutalised an Australian top order containing Don Bradman with ruthless short-pitch bowling and a leg-side field.
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins delivered a 296-run knock out first Test win under lights and Paine sounded an ominous warning to the Kiwis that his gilt-edged pace attack is only just warming up.
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"One thing I know is our boys won't be getting any slower as the series goes on," said Paine.
"It was great theatre wasn't it. We were just having a laugh before when we were bowling at their tail, we think it's going to be a bit of Bodyline for a lot of the series.
"I think some guys are gonna take it on, and continue to take it on, other guys are gonna wear it.
"Wadey's pretty happy to wear them, Marnus is gonna play it I'd imagine.
"I know a lot of our boys have spoken about where their fields are, and if they get this certain field they're happy to play it - if the field's this way, they're gonna duck them.
"I think Wadey just likes to show off and show how tough he is, so he likes to duck into them and wear them and try and get in a bit of a fight."
Nathan Lyon (four wickets) claimed the key wicket of Kane Williamson and bowled beautifully into the widening Perth cracks, but when Wagner came to the crease in the final session, the crowd started chanting "we want Wade", so desperate were they to see a reverse bout between the two brutal warriors and for the Tasmanian to give the Kiwi a taste of his own bruising medicine.
With Josh Hazlewood out of the attack, Tim Paine expertly rotated his bowlers to get his strike-weapon Starc (four wickets and nine for the match) peaking under lights, while the skipper also turned around his fortunes with the DRS with some astute referrals as New Zealand were bowled out for 171.
"I think any time you win your team takes confidence from it but it means nothing coming Boxing Day in Melbourne," said Paine. "We need to start again. We know they're a good side."
Justin Langer likened the uncompromising Wagner to England combatant Ben Stokes, while Wade's fearless ability to absorb physical punishment had former State of Origin hardman Martin Lang declaring the Tasmanian would be at home in an NRL front row.
At one point Wade reeled away in agony after one of Wagner's hard to read short balls whacked him flush on the thumb, but otherwise he spent a session under lights and one in the day staring his attacker back dead in the eye.
"There's been a lot of talk about it but regardless of the pace of the two teams, they are very, very skilled at executing that (short) ball," said Paine
"They set great fields for it. It's a completely different challenge from what you get from other teams. They're very good at it. They're very clever.
"There were times when we handled it really well and times when we just made some poor decisions, but we're aware of that and we'll continue to keep working on it heading into Melbourne.
"I thought that battle between (Wade) and Wagner is going to be great to watch and I thought both of them did it in the right spirit as well."
Wade and Wagner's engrossing battle ended unresolved on day four ahead of a now tantalising rematch at the MCG on Boxing Day, when the Australian eventually fell to all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.
However, Australian No.10 Lyon picked up where Wade had left off and sledged Kiwi spearhead Tim Southee for being a "fake Mr Nice Guy."
The Kiwis were set a mammoth 468 to pull off the impossible, but rather than give the impression of a defeated outfit, the Black Caps are adamant they have only grown in belief from the Perth battle.
The three-Test series is far from over.
"I thought the fight of our bowlers (on night three) was fantastic," said New Zealand star Ross Taylor.
"… I thought the fight we showed as a team, especially in that last session (on night three where Australia lost 5-29 in 10 overs) bodes well for the rest of the series."