Apart from that one-off test in Zimbabwe that no-one really took any notice of, tomorrow New Zealand start their first cricket test since January. And it’s against Australia. An Australian side that’s quite different from what we normally encounter when crossing the Tasman.
The range in expectations amongst former players leading up to this has been really varied. Former bowlers like Hadlee, Nash and in praticular Cairns have been hyping up; the former batsmen not so much.
The more excitable of pundits have been talking up the possibility of playing five front line bowlers as a way of accommodating Trent Boult. But feedback from on tour indicates that the Australians don’t particularly rate Boult on the basis of the build-up match, putting him “some distance” behind the rest of the seamers.
So what can we expect?
Reasons for Optimism:
This would have to be the most inexperienced Australian bowling attack since the days of Kerry Packer. And the likes of Cutting hardly ran through the NZ line-up in the Australia A match. The jury is still out on the assistant groundsman from Adelaide too.
Who would ever have thought that David Warner would play test cricket? Especially after only 11 first – class matches. He’s joined at the top of the innings by his great mate Phil Hughes in a selection that’s bemused every Australian outside of Sydney. An opening bowler’s dream.
The soap opera over Ponting’s final years must be a distraction as the current captain / selector sits around practicing his lines should the Big Call need to be made.
Over the last two weeks all of the top six in the New Zealand batting order have scored centuries. Big centuries too. And adding Ryder and Southee to the side that played in Zimbabwe makes a huge difference.
Reasons for Caution:
Australia’s build-up to this was a two test series in South Africa; New Zealand’s was a one-off struggle in Zimbabwe. And despite the 47, Australia still managed to square that series. Not many sides can come from a test down in South Africa.
The Gabba is a fortress.
Take out Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and NZ have won exactly 0 of their last 24 tests away from home.
Having Southee back gives the attack a much improved look, but his workload will need to be managed.
They’ll go after Doug Bracewell II. Especially after his talking it up during the week. Remember he’s playing in only his second test.
Ricky Ponting with his back to the wall is an angry little goblin. And we all know that angry little goblins are a dangerous thing. Class, permanence etc.
Hussey and Haddin are also scrapping for their places. Just like they were in Johannesburg when they both did their bit in chasing down 300+ in the final innings against a world class attack.
So it won’t be easy, but New Zealand do actually have a shout here. Whatever, after such a long drought it’ll just be great to have this unfold on TV in front of us. Remember, there’s a mute button.