CHRISTCHURCH • Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood pleaded guilty to dissent after a profanity-laced confrontation with the umpires, as Australia closed in on a series sweep over New Zealand and the top cricket Test ranking yesterday.
Hazlewood's anger and obscenities were picked up by the stump microphone as he challenged the umpires, after an appeal for the wicket of New Zealand's Kane Williamson was turned down.
An Australian team spokesman confirmed that Hazlewood had pleaded guilty to an International Cricket Council charge of dissent. The fine will be determined later.
There was no action against Australia captain Steve Smith, whose voice was also heard in the confrontation.
Australia go into the final day at 70-1 needing a further 131 runs to win the second and final Test and take the series 2-0.
Joe Burns is on 27 with Usman Khawaja 19, after David Warner was out for 22. Jackson Bird, with his first five-wicket Test haul, and James Pattinson combined to end the New Zealand second innings at 335, giving Australia a 201-run target. But it was a frustating day for Australia as Williamson and Corey Anderson batted through the morning session, giving New Zealand hope of an unlikely draw.
Tempers flared after a Hazlewood lbw appeal for the wicket of Williamson was rejected, with the Australians converging on umpires Richard Kettleborough and Ranmore Martinesz.
Bird said the angry reaction was due to frustration at not being able to take a wicket in the morning session.
"We bowled pretty well in the first session and we probably thought it was out, but those 50-50 calls either go your way or they don't," he said. "It was probably the frustration of the whole session. We'd bowled pretty well and hadn't got a wicket and we'd been pretty close a couple of times.
"Test cricket is a hard game and sometimes tempers can boil over and people can get frustrated."
Although Australia have been dominant for much of the Test, New Zealand put up a valiant fight with two century partnerships.
Williamson made 97 when adding 102 for the fifth wicket with Anderson. The loss of Anderson for 40 was the start of a triple Bird strike that claimed three wickets in six balls. Williamson and Tim Southee also fell before B.J. Watling and Matt Henry mounted rearguard resistance, adding 118 for the eighth wicket.
Anderson occupied the crease for three hours before edging a wide delivery on to the stumps.
When Bird took the new ball in his next over he bagged the wicket Australia had fought for all morning, bowling Williamson three runs short of what would have been his 14th Test century, and two balls later he removed Southee for a duck.
Where Williamson and Anderson had been the epitome of caution, Watling and Henry took a more aggressive route to disrupt the line of the bowlers who were finding some reverse swing. Henry, in his fourth Test, had 12 fours in his 66, easily surpassing his previous best of 27.
For Australia, Pattinson removed New Zealand's top order in his four for 77 and Bird finished with five for 59.