Australia have completed their World Cup preparatory camp in Brisbane and now head to the UK via a stopover in Gallipoli to visit Anzac Cove. The New Zealand squad, which was missing ten players from their provisional World Cup party, now head home and wait for the IPL-based contingent to return before they all leave from Auckland next week. Here are a few things we learned from the three matches the two sides played over the past few days.
Smith is coming along nicely
Steven Smith's elbow has become one of the more closely analysed joints in Australian sport. Fielding has been the main question mark and he did largely remain inside the circle during the matches at Allan Border Field. However, in terms of run-scoring, things are coming along very well. After finding form in the latter part of the IPL, he played confidently for unbeaten scores of 89 and 91, the first packing a punch at the end of the innings and the second in an accumulator role from No. 3 during a chase. It was enough for Justin Langer to say he had "slept better" although there was a small scare in the final game when he jammed the bat into the ground while completing a run and appeared to suffer some discomfort in the elbow.
The third quick needs to stand up
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins looked in fine fettle in the two matches they played, but who supports them as the third paceman remains a question. Without the injured pair of Jhye Richardson and Josh Hazlewood, the options are a little less enticing than they could have been.
Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff both took three wickets in the opening match, and Coulter-Nile also brings extra batting power and Behrendorff another left-arm option. As for Kane Richardson, who has replaced Jhye, he went wicketless in his two outings. Starc and Cummins took 10 for 117 combined against New Zealand XI, the other three frontliners 6 for 223. As the intensity of preparations lifts when the team arrives in England, those other pace bowlers need to do the same.
Zampa vital in the middle overs
Taking wickets in the middle orders will be vital to either keep teams below 300 batting first or defending targets. Adam Zampa will be a key element in this for Australia, to go with how Starc and Cummins are used outside of their initial bursts. It has taken until very close to the World Cup for Australia to latch on to the importance of spin in the 50-over game, although it's unlikely Zampa and Nathan Lyon will play together that often. Against India and Pakistan, Zampa took 18 wickets in 11 matches and he must be used as an attacking option. He was taken on in the final practice match in Brisbane, going for 76 in nine overs for his two wickets, but on many occasions 3 for 70 could serve the team better than none for 50. When Zampa didn't play the second match against the New Zealanders, the spin options of Lyon and Glenn Maxwell did not pose many problems for the batsmen.
Will Young is very good
With nine players at the IPL and another in county cricket, this was a chance to see what New Zealand had below their top tier. In Will Young, they have a very impressive batsman. The domestic returns have suggested so, and he was set for a debut in March before the Christchurch Test was cancelled, but he stood out in every aspect as he made 301 runs in three innings including two centuries. He has taken the decision to get a shoulder problem fixed, which is set to sideline him for six months, but when he returns at some point later in the year he will remain the next batsman in line. When a vacancy does present itself in either the Test or ODI team, New Zealand appear to have the perfect person to slot in.
And one thing we didn't learn…
Where will Warner bat?
It will be extraordinary if David Warner doesn't open the batting at the World Cup, but Australia are likely to keep people guessing a little while longer. He made 39 in the first match in Brisbane batting at No. 3, and then collected two failures - 0 and 2 - when moved up to open as the IPL form didn't quite transfer to Brisbane. Only once in 104 ODI innings has Warner not gone in first and while he will have to fit into team plans on his return to international cricket, and sometimes there isn't much difference between coming out first or at No. 3, he is a world-class opener.