NZ in Australia 2015-16 November 20, 2015

Important not to be too sceptical - McMillan

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'Trying not to think about the pink ball too much' - McMillan

Craig McMillan remembers the inaugural Twenty20 international, played in 2005 between Australia and New Zealand on a warm summer's evening at Eden Park. He remembers the colour, the crowd and the retro uniforms. He also remembers that the players all thought it was a bit of a joke, and that none could foresee the T20 explosion to follow.

This time around as New Zealand's batting coach, McMillan knows the inaugural day-night Test at Adelaide Oval will be another leap into the unknown. Once again, there will be some level of scepticism among players about the concept. But McMillan is adamant that they should embrace it, in the knowledge that it may be a format of the game they are soon playing far more often.

"It was a different feeling, almost a carnival atmosphere," McMillan said of the T20 game ahead of a pink ball warm-up match against a Western Australia XI at the WACA Ground. "Perhaps it wasn't taken as seriously as what it should have been. No one had the inkling in eight years time it was going to be the norm and part of the calendar.

"That's why it's important we prepare properly and we look forward to this, because we just don't know in three or four years' time where cricket is going to head. I think it's important, as a sport, that we're always looking to encourage different groups, different people to come to the game, and this is certainly a way of doing that."

Ticket sales for the Adelaide Test have been strong, compared to "Ashes levels" by Cricket Australia. McMillan said the prospect of crowds in the region of 50,000 on the first couple of evenings was something the tourists were eager to embrace, even as they took time to adjust to the vagaries of the pink ball and evening air. Then there is the momentum New Zealand built through a highly resilient display in Perth.

"I don't know how the Australians are thinking, all I know is talk of 50,000 on the first day of a Test match, for us, is very exciting," he said. "We generally don't play in front of crowds like that in terms of Test cricket. There is a lot of excitement. We've heard a lot about the Adelaide Oval, its redevelopment and how it looks. Everyone we've talked to says what an amazing stadium it is.

"We're certainly more happy with our performance in the second Test than the first. I think guys have gained a lot of confidence individually and as a group from the performance in Perth. With this being a little bit of an unknown because it's a different situation - it's at night, it's a different ball - there's an excitement. I think there's not a lot between the two sides, so it all adds up to an exciting Test match ahead."

One of McMillan's primary responsibilities right now is to bolster the confidence of the opener Martin Guptill, who is still working to bring the free-flowing elements of his limited-overs batting to the Test arena. To play with freedom is invariably easier said than done, and Guptill must overcome the anxieties associated with spells in and out of the Test team before he can muscle the ball around as he has done so often in ODIs.

"Gupps has spent a fair bit of time at the crease and I don't think he's too far away," McMillan said. "Over the last six months coming back into the Test side - he spent some time out - and I don't think he's too far away from actually closing that gap between his one-day game and his Test game.

"One of the important things I talk to Gupp about is encouraging him to play similar to his one-day game. There's not a lot of change with the way he should play. He's still working through it. He's a quality player at the international level and I don't think he's far off producing some of the innings we know he can produce at the top of the order."

New Zealand will try as many options as possible during the two-day fixture, with Trent Boult and Tim Southee both expected to bowl under lights with the pink ball to re-familiarise themselves with it after two daytime Test matches. McMillan has seen predictions of a well-grassed Adelaide surface in order to preserve the condition of the ball.

"I'm expecting a bit more grass than what we've seen in the last two Test matches," he said. "Historically Adelaide has generally been pretty flat and at times hasn't turned. But I wouldn't be surprised to maybe see more grass and even a hint of green grass on the surface. Certainly more than what we've seen in the first two Tests.

"To a degree, yes [surprised at flatness of pitches]. I think on previous tours of Australia there's certainly been a little bit more there for the bowlers at different stages. Certainly the last two Test matches have been taxing on both bowling attacks. So giving everyone a bit of a break over the last couple of days has been really important."

Western Australia XI squad: Ashton Turner (capt), Tom Beaton, Will Bosisto, Ryan Duffield, Marcus Harris, Josh Inglis, David Moody, Liam O'Connor, Joel Paris, Andrew Tye, Jonathan Wells, Sam Whiteman (wk)

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jace666 on November 21, 2015, 11:57 GMT

    nz aint gonna win a toss...noone gives a toss...craig..and Henry are so average. .henry never gets movement craig is all over the place....batting is worls class..you wontv2in Adelaide with those two..get mcleanagan in and santner..maybe wagner even though hes tsken 3 already

  • Neil on November 21, 2015, 11:25 GMT

    Interesting to see how Australia's new popgun, 30 per wicket average attack will go. And whether CA provides a surface to help the Australia bowlers or a flat track to reduce the possibility of a NZ win as Australia are 1 up. Whatever the conditions no doubt we'll have the usual Outback crusaders blaming the pitch, ball or both for their team's poor play

  •   Shane Bertschin on November 21, 2015, 11:24 GMT

    Any pink ball experts here? What can we expect it's characteristics to be? Swing, spin, quick degrading etc? Is it made from other materials compared to the red?

  • Shane on November 21, 2015, 11:13 GMT

    @Marcio - good point. If you take away some of the wickets taken, then less wickets were taken. A solid argument indeed.

  • Merv on November 21, 2015, 11:07 GMT

    Seriously Whiteman should be the Test keeper. Neville was a poor choice based only on his NSW team membership.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2015, 10:34 GMT

    WRECKINGBALL, NZ out bowled Australia? Only on Planet Bizarro. Australia were 2 or three for 500, and lost four or five wickets at the end in just a few overs of slogging. But of course you are already well aware of that. NZ got the best of bowling conditions on the morning of the last day, and used them pretty well. But the rest of the game was over 800 runs for five wickets, if you take away the late innings slogging. Not sure you can be outbowling anyone, given that.

  • dave on November 21, 2015, 10:31 GMT

    @ALTurner - C McMillan has a test average of 38 and that was batting at 6. He was unable to bat higher and 5 and 6 was where he and Astle batted. This is usually reserved for the all rounders and new boys. Very inconsistent even in that armchair position. Ross Taylor batting at 4 is av 48!

  • anik on November 21, 2015, 10:05 GMT

    in ODI start with guptil and Macculum, then Williamson, Taylor, Anderson, Elliott, Neesham, Stanter, Southee, Bolt, meline/ bracewell.

  • anik on November 21, 2015, 10:03 GMT

    play maline, Bolt and southee and Wagner/ Neesham. all 4 pacer with stanter as spinning alrounder/ a extra batsmen and the batsmen are Latham, Guptil, Williamson Taylor and macculum and one Wk good team and great penetrating bowling with maline in busts of 4 overs

  • Adrian on November 21, 2015, 9:56 GMT

    The difference is that T20 was already established domestically before the first T20 international. Pink ball cricket is far from established at domestic levels, and indeed it has been something of a failure in its limited trials.

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