HENRY: Australia vs New Zealand is compulsive cricket viewing

Geoff Lawson Columnist

By Geoff Lawson, Geoff Lawson is a Roar Expert

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    New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is one of the best batters in the world. (AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE)

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    Patrons who regularly attend Eden Park have become used to the asymmetries that mark the classic New Zealand compromise to the king code of rugby.

    Followers of Kiwi cricket have been perennially used to the similar asymmetry in trans-Tasman cricket results. That trend may soon be hitting a flat spot. The contest on Saturday is between co-hosts and current co-favourites.

    It promises to be a classic. Before the Cup’s opening overs Australia, playing on home pitches and in consistent winning form, had earned a top shelf billing. There were very few arguments to the negative.

    New Zealand were considered a semi-final team, playing at home and improving steadily with a couple of home series wins.

    The opening few games have changed little about Australia’s prospects albeit with a rain out against Bangladesh in Brisbane not progressing the Michael Clarke fitness issue – perhaps the most divisive element of Australia’s preparation.

    Meanwhile, back in the land of the long white cloud Brendon McCullum’s troops have laid down a marker of considerable weight. The victory over England was nothing less than emphatic. While embarrassing for England, it was ruthless from New Zealand, and ‘ruthless’ is an adjective generally reserved for Australian teams of the near past.

    Both of these teams have evolved with balanced and penetrating attacks and a number of top order players who score rapidly and repeatedly.

    When once New Zealand might have had one strike bowler, a holding military medium, some batsmen who bowled a bit and an excellent containing spinner, they now have Boult and Southee to swing the new balls and Milne to follow with pace and menace.

    Dan Vettori is rarely dominated and in the McCullum monarchy he more often finds himself at the bowling crease with the opposition middle order in, and trying to survive or rebuild rather than the top order plundering with little risk. Vettori’s effectiveness has improved with age and support from the fast bowling attack.

    Australia have the new ball firepower that allows them to play without a specialist spinner, and enough pace to use the old ball if it reverse swinging.

    Both teams now have wicket takers throughout the innings, rather than support bowlers who can be targeted through the middle and especially in the power plays. The battle between the opening bats and the new ball bowlers will electric.

    If Brendon McCullum gets going (and that will be apparent quite quickly) the dimensions of Eden Park will seem like the All Blacks are playing on a rectangle. An oval ball may be requested by the bowlers.

    He is in supreme form. The bowling must be of the highest standard if containment is even contemplated.

    Kane Williamson too has hit purple at the right time, Ross Taylor is always dangerous when the bounce is medium to low.

    As Australia has the Haddin factor, the Black Caps have gained the Ronchi effect. Two hard-hitting wicketkeeper batsmen who lengthen the order. Two quick scorers, two finishers, two excellent glovemen, two who can open the batting if required.

    There’s not much between the teams right now, and this first-round clash will produce transient bragging rights and a tenuous mental edge if they happen to meet again in the final – if the result is close. If there is a blowout for either team then the other will start to doubt their genuine credentials for a title.

    Australia has never struggled for self belief and have trophies to brag about but the Black Caps have fallen at the second last hurdle a few times. No doubt the home crowd will play their part, maybe by putting some pressure on the home team as expectations are high and the rivalry ingrained.

    Strap yourselves in for some compulsive viewing or listening.

    Geoff Lawson
    Geoff Lawson

    Geoff Lawson OAM is a former Australian cricketer and the former coach of the Pakistan cricket team. Nicknamed "Henry" after the Australian poet, Lawson was a fast bowler for New South Wales and Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • February 27th 2015 @ 2:42pm
      Targa said | February 27th 2015 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

      You forgot about Corey Anderson – the kid is the new Lance Klusener

      • February 27th 2015 @ 10:43pm
        Don Freo said | February 27th 2015 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

        Lance wasn’t much chop.

    • February 27th 2015 @ 2:55pm
      Worlds Biggest said | February 27th 2015 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

      Nice one Henry, really looking forward to this game. I reckon our boys will be a bit underdone while the Kiwis are in supreme form.

    • February 27th 2015 @ 3:14pm
      Nervous Kiwi said | February 27th 2015 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

      Very exciting.
      The nervous fan who has been hurt before thinks Aussie have too much depth and we havent been tested by extreme pace, but there is reason for hope!

      Evenly matched. Hoping for an epic. A shame Eden Park is such a dump

    • Roar Guru

      February 27th 2015 @ 3:19pm
      Wal said | February 27th 2015 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

      Whilst my heart (and blood pressure) are hoping for a match similar to the Poms last week, I really do hope we see both sides fight this out to the final over.

    • February 27th 2015 @ 5:26pm
      Brendon said | February 27th 2015 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

      I wouldn’t worry too much if Australia loses to NZ. If we beat Sri Lanka we’ll finish second in the group (assuming we beat Afghanistan and Scotland) and that means avoiding New Zealand in the semis.

      New Zealand have all but guaranteed a top 2 spot in Group A by beating England and Sri Lanka even if they lose to Australia.

    • February 27th 2015 @ 10:32pm
      West said | February 27th 2015 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

      Come on Black Caps!!! No mercy, do it for Crowe. Sell out Eden Park, should be a classic.

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