Australia in New Zealand 2015-16 January 29, 2016

Australia's preparations 'adequate' - Smith


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'Red-hot NZ will be tough to beat' - Smith

Australia's captain Steven Smith believes his men will have adequate preparation for their Trans-Tasman Trophy defence in New Zealand despite there being no warm-up match ahead of the first Test. The two Tests in Wellington and Christchurch are preceded by three ODIs, which will be the only local match preparation for several Test squad members including Smith, David Warner, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh and Shaun Marsh.

Three other Test players - Adam Voges, Nathan Lyon and Peter Nevill - will play in a Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Western Australia in Lincoln, New Zealand, which was scheduled to help local preparation in lieu of a tour game. Others such as Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, James Pattinson, Chadd Sayers, Jackson Bird and Peter Siddle (fitness permitting) have a Sheffield Shield game in Australia before flying to New Zealand.

It is hardly an ideal situation given that the conditions in New Zealand are likely to offer more swing and seam than was seen during the Test series between the two sides in Australia at the start of the summer. And with only two Tests, there is no room for a slow start as the Australians adjust; New Zealand are proven performers at home, and have not lost a Test in New Zealand since early 2012, before Brendon McCullum and Mike Hesson came together as captain and coach.

"It is what it is. We've played a lot of cricket this summer," Smith said in Melbourne on Friday ahead of his departure early on Saturday morning. "Everyone will be playing some form of cricket, whether it's one-day cricket or the Shield match. I think it's adequate preparation and we'll be ready to go for that series."

None of Australia's squad has played a Test in New Zealand, the last tour there having been nearly six years ago when a 20-year-old Smith was part of the squad but had to wait until later in the year to win his first baggy green. However, Smith thinks he knows the kind of pitches the Australians will face in New Zealand and he knows that the challenge of facing the moving ball will again be significant, as it was during last year's Ashes tour.

"It's going to be a little bit different," Smith said. "They're going to prepare wickets that are going to do a little bit. We've got some bowlers there to hopefully get a bit out of that and the batters are going to have to adapt a little bit better than we have previously on wickets that have done stuff. Guys are working hard and we know what to expect.

"It's very difficult to do. When you grow up in Australia you can play out in front a little bit more, and in those conditions you've got to play under your eyes so your nicks don't carry and you're not getting out in front. It's hard to train, you sort of have to get away from everything that you learn growing up and try and for a new technique, in a way. Hopefully the guys can do that and adapt, to all the conditions around the world."

Key to New Zealand's hopes will be their pace attack led by Trent Boult, who struggled early on in the Tests in Australia but by the third Test in Adelaide with the pink ball was proving a handful for Australia's batsmen. Boult has described the upcoming tour as the "pinnacle of the season" for New Zealand; Australia remember all too well the way he destroyed them in Auckland during last year's World Cup, albeit swinging a white ball rather than a red one.

"He looked like he was back to his best in the last couple of Tests here," Smith said. "He got a bit more work into his body and he was ready to go. He's done very well for New Zealand recently, he bowls extremely well in New Zealand, so he's going to be a tough one for us. But guys know what to expect. Hopefully the batters can combat whatever he brings at us."

During that memorable World Cup game in Auckland, Mitchell Starc was just as deadly with the moving ball as Boult, and Australia will sorely miss the injured Starc in New Zealand conditions for this Test series. Hazlewood will lead the attack and two of Pattinson, Siddle, Sayers and Bird will round out the pace attack; choosing who makes the cut in Wellington could be difficult given the lack of a tour game.

"We're going to have a few net sessions before we start," Smith said. "We'll have a look and see how they're going, see how their bodies are and see who's going to be best for the conditions that we're faced with. It's going to be a tough call on whomever misses out but we're confident that these guys are going to do a job for us in New Zealand."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on February 2, 2016, 7:21 GMT

    Over the years i've gotta say i'm amazed that so many people persist in claiming that pitches produce swing, as the willeyholder pointed out it is conditions above that assist swing and the pitches assist seam, do your homework people.

  • Craig on February 1, 2016, 3:26 GMT

    How right you are The Black Caps are an experience and settled test side. ..certainly not to be underestimated at home. O the other hand the Baggy Greens are rebuilding after a swathe of retirements and playing in unfamiliar conditions.

  • Craig on February 1, 2016, 3:23 GMT

    DUNGER BOB. Precisely my point. Give some of our blokes practice in the prevailing conditions. So why not play all Blues and Warriors test boys in the match. Why only Lyon and Neville and not Smith, Hazlewood and Mitch Marsh?.

  • tezza on February 1, 2016, 3:11 GMT

    CARBATTERY,,,, i think you'll find hobart 2010-11 they won, but if you mean test series then thAt is right, but a couple tests every 5 years is hardly a fair test of that record. past is the past, apart from strac their at full strength,should be a cracker, 1-0 nz in tests,wellington conditions will be to much for aussys, aussy to win odi's.

  • tezza on February 1, 2016, 3:03 GMT

    mervo ??? no warm up games because your board and the bcci insist on having these long boring drawn out 4 match series with each other, make it two t20's, 3 odi's and im sure there would have been time for a warm up, and like the two we got in aus were any help, canberra was a coin toss match, we lost the toss, we only bowled spinners for half of their innings cos the pitch was rubbish,the other pitch was a road.2-0 on the back page maybe, but we all know it was alot closer, a more sporting dec in perth , and a less than average umpire in adelaide....."theres a mark on the bat at the time the ball passes ,but it could have come from anywhere"lol

  • Izmi on January 30, 2016, 13:20 GMT

    This is Steve Smith's first overseas tour as captain of the Australian cricket team. He shouldn't underestimate the NZ cricket team as they are a strong and well balanced unit who are a force to reckon with under home conditions. They have a strong batting line up as well as a fine bowling side. I reckon Kane Williamson is one of the most successful, stylish and technically correct batsman in world cricket today. They also have captain Brendon McCallum, Guptill, Taylor and Munro who can flay the bowling to all parts of the ground. Their bowling is just as good with Southie, Boult and Anderson who can swing the ball viciously. Australia's bowling attack of Hazlewood, Pattinson, Siddle and Lyon will have a hard time to contain the Kiwis batsmen after their recent success at home against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The Australian batting line up of Warner, Smith Khawaja, Burns and Shaun Marsh will have to contribute in a big way with the bat to win the series.

  • carl on January 30, 2016, 5:06 GMT

    Big test for Smith and co with a weakened bowling line up. I see Smith being along the lines of a captain like Steve Waugh. If he gets a fully fit team around him he could do great things. Biggest weakness is M.Marsh batting at 6, guy is not good enough.

  • subhasish on January 30, 2016, 3:43 GMT

    I don't think New Zealand prepare seaming tracks for Australia they will prepare good bating friendly pitches I m sure

  • Craig on January 30, 2016, 2:35 GMT

    Would have been a good move by CA re the shield game in Christchurch had all our tests stars been picked to play in it. But Smith, Warner and Hazlewood are missing for the Blues and the Marsh brothers for the Warriors. Why?

  • Craig on January 30, 2016, 1:27 GMT

    Smith has to say bow and scrape to his masters. What choice does he have? He knows he and a couple of other players should have played in the Blues v Warriors shield match instead of ODI games. Red ball practice is better that white ball. Baffled why the shield round was brought to Kiwi shores if not for that reason?

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