A green top awaits Australia and New Zealand when the first Test of the Trans-Tasman Trophy series kicks off on Friday.
The world number one ranking goes on the line for Australia. A win in the two-Test series would see the baggy greens go back atop the rankings.
For the Black Caps, a lot is also on the line. This is their best chance at regaining the Trans-Tasman Trophy which they have not held since 1993-94. Since a young Shane Warne led Australia to a 2-0 victory, the Aussies have yet to relinquish the tropy.
This series is the farewell for retiring captain Brendon McCullum.
It’s hardly surprising that New Zealand have produced a pitch such as the one that was unveiled at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, which is particularly green. Australia’s well known Achilles Heel is in conditions that are not friendly for batting.
Australia have proved time and time again they cannot handle the swinging ball. England took full advantage of this, bowling Australia out for 136 and 60 in successive Tests at home in 2015. The bowlers likewise seem to struggle to adapt to different conditions from they are used to.
Keys to win for Australia
1. Learn from past failures in not respecting the swinging conditions with the bat. Build an innings and not try to dominate from ball one. The tone for this will need to be set by the leadership group of Dave Warner and Steve Smith.
2. The continued dominant form of Usman Khawaja. With the unreliability of the middle order, it is vital that Khawaja makes big runs and bats long periods of time.
3. Look to attack Mark Craig. Craig was the weak link in the recent series between the two teams played in Australia.
4. Pitch the ball up to take advantage of the conditions and have plenty of slips, particularly to the top order. The Kiwi middle order also looks brittle. If Australia can get through to the debutant Henry Nicholls they will fancy themselves to run through the order.
Keys to win for New Zealand
1. Follow the blueprint laid down by England in 2015 on how to beat Australia in swinging conditions.
2. Win the toss and bowl.
3. Keep it tight against Australia’s top order and don’t let them dominate. They will get themselves out.
4. Avoid the emotion of McCullum’s farewell series.
This one is going to be tough for Australia.
Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Brendon McCullum (c), Corey Anderson, B.J Watling, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
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A few evenings ago, Shane Warne named his greatest Ashes XI. So we’re going to do the same. If you missed it, Warney’s XI was composed only of players who he played with or against, as long as their first name didn’t begin with S (a disclaimer which evidently only applied to this combined XI […]