Australia in New Zealand 2015-16 January 26, 2016

Australia series 'pinnacle of season' - Boult

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New Zealand bowler Trent Boult took 4 for 40 in the first ODI against Pakistan, in Wellington

New Zealand must win one of the two remaining ODIs against Pakistan to seal the series, but already there is hype developing for the tour to come. Australia - their neighbourhood rivals, and opponents in some of the most storied clashes of the past year - have picked their ODI squad, and arrive in the country in early February.

Pacer Trent Boult has said his focus remained on Pakistan, for now, but he had given thought to the clash against Australia, which he described as the "pinnacle of the season". The teams play two Tests and three ODIs, the first of which begins February 3.

"The battles between the Aussies and us - it is very exciting," Boult said. "We'll focus on the next couple of games, but we're all aware of what's to come. That series is going to be very important. If I can keep ticking the right boxes and finding a bit of form leading into the Test matches, I think I'll be pretty happy."

Boult's enthusiasm for that contest echoes that of a fast bowler from across the Tasman, who agreed the tour in New Zealand would be the highlight of Australia's summer of cricket as well. Josh Hazlewood, who had matched Boult's 13 wickets in the Trans-Tasman Test series at the beginning of the southern summer, has also spoken about the challenge that faces his team, playing in front of a "hostile" New Zealand crowd, against a team who are "tough to beat" in their home conditions.

Both teams have faced underwhelming opposition in their home seasons so far. West Indies and Sri Lanka were blown away by Australia and New Zealand respectively. Pakistan have now lost three of their four matches in New Zealand so far, while India were cleaned up 4-1 in ODIs by Australia.

"I can't think of a better challenge to see where we are in terms of our Test game and our one-day game than to play Australia," Boult said. "It's definitely going to be very exciting from our end as well - to have them here in our home conditions. We've been putting some pretty good performances on board over the last week, and now the big test is to put it up against one of the best teams in the world."

Despite eventually topping the wicket-takers' list alongside Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, Boult had battled injury during that Australia tour at the end of 2015. He was below his best during the Tests against Sri Lanka as well, but having now claimed 12 wickets in his six most-recent limited-overs matches, he feels he is increasing in confidence. Boult took 4 for 40 in the first ODI against Pakistan, helping clear out the opposition's lower order.

"The Australia tour was a good learning curve for me," he said. "To come back here - I haven't played a heck of a lot of cricket to be honest. Each game was kind of getting better for me. I was definitely a lot happier with how it was yesterday. To get a few late wickets was very satisfying."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ratdee on January 31, 2016, 15:25 GMT

    I feel Odi series will be closely fought. Though I Expect Kiwis to beat aussies by atleast 2-1.Australia test side will be completely exposed in NZ Conditions.Likes of Starc and hazlewood have to prove their worth as players outside australia especially in NZ,SA,England and India.For long time australia has been playing only in their home turf barring tour to mediocre WI.This will be the real test for steve smith as captain.

  • CricMystique on January 28, 2016, 6:35 GMT

    @DUNGER.BOB - as an indian fan - if Aus donot win in NZ and as you say if india 'locks' in the #1 spot - it would have a pretty hollow ring to heaps of rational indian fans including this one...that said - NZ vs AUS deserves to be a 3 test series - doubt if is the 'big 3' effect that led to a 2 test shootout...i think it is more the compressed itenary with the T20 WC and the IPL looming up...all in all - hoping to see Adam milne play tests-with his bond-esqe pace-he would lend a new dimension-good luck to both- as a neutral this should be one awesome series...cricinfo plz publish

  • Shaggy076 on January 28, 2016, 2:15 GMT

    TommyTuckerSaffa: I agree with most of it but its not a 3 match series because NZ in their wisdom thought they would make more money out of an extra one-day game rather than a test match. Nothing to do with a big 3 thing.

  • dunger.bob on January 27, 2016, 22:03 GMT

    I'm pretty desperate for Oz to grab that #1 spot just to give the Indians something to think about. If we fail in NZ they will pretty much have it locked in for the next couple of years the way the schedule is. They don't have any away test series at all for 2 years as far as I can see. .. I've got nothing against the Indians as such. They're a fine cricket team, but this seems as though it's been a bit too easy for them. I feel it's our duty, as Australians, to throw as big a spanner as possible into their works. Our duty I tell you.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 27, 2016, 21:11 GMT

    @Tommytuckersaffa: It's funny you say this. Didn't your board recently dish out a road between SA and Eng at Cape Town ? Ordinary players like Bavuma, Stokes, Bairstow etc were made to resemble test greats. Ironic indeed.

  • PrasPunter on January 27, 2016, 19:08 GMT

    I wonder when we can really see us fielding a proper 1st-choice bowling line-up. for ODIs. Boland still in the team ? Could hardly believe !! Looks like the selectors are blessed with celestial powers !! They could see what we all couldn't , with him !! Brace ourselves to chase 400 at the Eden Park !!

  • Mervo on January 27, 2016, 11:35 GMT

    Wrong 2-0 down for NZ at this stage

  • Mervo on January 27, 2016, 11:33 GMT

    So NZ start 1-0 down in this series, now at home. Guess we can take for granted spicy pitches and no practice in NZ conditions for the Aussies?

  • Samdanh on January 27, 2016, 10:15 GMT

    I would love to see Aus play NZ in NZ over at least 3 Tests just months before before every Ashes in England or vice versa is fine too.

  • cricfan81592644 on January 27, 2016, 9:40 GMT

    @tommytuckersaffa - you are not wrong about Australian pitches. It feels like in the last two years we have had one decent test pitch which Adelaide against NZ. And they only left grass on that because they were scared the pink ball wouldn't last. I would much rather watch 3 to 4 days of really good contest between bat and ball than 5 days where the ball does nothing at all. Our administrators seemed to be obsessed with runs!

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