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 with a series win in the two test series seeing the Baggy Greens go back atop the rankings where they once belonged.
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 when a young Shane Warne lead Australia to a 2-0 victory. That was ten series ago and for a bit of context, Allan Border was in the last six months of his test career.
It’s also the farewell series for retiring captain Brendan 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. 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 in 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, bowl far too short and wide.
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, Brendan McCullum (c), Corey Anderson, B.J Watling, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
Keys to win for Australia
- 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 of Warner and Smith.
- The continued dominant form of Khawaja. With the unreliability of the middle order it is vital that Khawaja makes big runs and bats long periods of time.
- Look to attack Mark Craig. Craig was the weak link in the recent series between the two teams played in Australia.
- 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 Nicholls at 2 for not many they will fancy themselves to run through the order.
Keys to win for New Zealand
- Follow the blueprint laid down by England in 2015 on how to beat Australia in swinging conditions.
- Win the toss and bowl.
- Keep it tight against Australia’s top order and don’t let them dominate. They will get themselves out.
- Avoid the emotion of McCullum’s farewell series.
This one is going to be tough for Australia.