<
>

Latham looks to savour 'massive occasion'

At 2 PM on Friday at the Adelaide Oval, when history is made with the delivery of the first pink ball of a Test match, chances are either Tim Southee or Tom Latham will be front and centre, Southee opening the bowling for New Zealand, Latham watching at the non-striker's end as Martin Guptill takes on Mitchell Starc.

Of course, there is also the small matter of squaring a Test series, but the significance of the occasion is not lost on the New Zealand players. Aside from the 40000 fans expected on the opening day, New Zealand know the eyes of the entire cricketing world will be trained on this match and, for a team that all too often performs in the wings of the international stage, the prospect of stepping into the spotlight is an exciting one.

"It's obviously pretty exciting to have that many people there for this historic Test and I think it's going to be a great fixture," Latham said. "It's a massive occasion for us and Australia and, flying over the stadium yesterday, it was pretty cool to see it first hand and it'll be pretty cool to get there tomorrow.

"From the sounds of things, and going by what I've heard about the surface, it's a pretty flat surface so it'd be pretty nice to get out there and face the first ball of a pink ball Test."

Most of Latham's team-mates have also only had a bird's eye view of the stadium and are relying on hearsay - only Brendan McCullum, Ross Taylor and Tim Southee have played Test cricket here - but the uncertainty of how the pink ball will play has rendered the notion of experience more difficult to judge.

"We're continuing to learn about what the pink ball is going to throw at us," Southee said. "Just the way it reacts at certain times of the day and how you're going to cope with different phases throughout the day.

"It does a little bit more under lights. That's not an unknown, both sides know that. Both sides can swing the ball. It's how you perform in that time when it does do a little bit."

Another uncertainty for New Zealand is the fitness of Trent Boult, after an irritated disc prevented him from bowling in the two-day pink ball warm-up match against Western Australia XI.

After a disappointing start by his own high standards to the series in Brisbane, Boult's ability to swing the ball was a significant factor on the second day of the WACA Test as New Zealand fought their way back into the match. His absence in Adelaide will be a blow in conditions that are far more likely to favour bowlers than in either of the first two Tests.

"I don't think as a bowling group we've hit out straps the way we'd like on this tour so far," Southee said, having suffered a back injury scare during this series. "But there's still one game to go and hopefully we can show the high standards we've shown for a long time now.

"There's a lot of depth in the bowling group and if he [Boult] is unavailable I'm sure someone will step up and fill his shoes."