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Pink ball, 40-degree heat… New Zealand brace for 'most extreme' Test in Perth

Trent Boult has a bowl in the nets, but his participation in the first Test remains uncertain

New Zealand are ready to embrace the "most extreme" conditions they could encounter in Australia, but don't believe the pink ball will be toughest element of their challenge in the Perth Test.
The forecast is for temperatures to top 40 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and while that is not unusual for cricketers around the world, New Zealand have only three days to prepare for the opening Test. Add to that the pace and bounce the Perth Stadium pitch is expected to produce, plus a chance of cracks opening up as the heat takes it effect.
It doesn't end there. There is the floodlight element, but with the game starting a 1pm local time there will only be a short window played in darkness, although the lights will start to have an effect around 5pm as shadows come across the ground.
"Coming to Perth is probably the most extreme [conditions] we will face, perhaps if it was Melbourne or Sydney it would be a little more like home, so good on them for bringing us over here first," New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. "This is a different challenge than we have had for a while, we've had a lot of success at home and we play well there generally, but Australia also came and beat us there a few years ago.
"We've got to be careful that we don't overstate what the pink ball might do at night. We start an hour earlier than most pink-ball Tests, so that's an hour less in darkness, so perhaps a bigger factor may be the heat that we are going to face over the next four or five days and making sure we are aware of that. We've played in many different conditions so it's not a surprise."
The Australians are taking the conditions in their stride and coach Justin Langer said they would "hopefully" have an advantage from it, but acknowledged that all players would be tested.
I don't think [today] you'll see him bowling 15 overs or anything, but he does need to be able to prove that he can get the intensity we want
Gary Stead on Trent Boult
"We are talking about elite athletes so they'll be well prepared for it but there's no doubt it will have an effect. If you're a fast bowler or batting in a helmet for hopefully a long period of time being in 40 is like being in a sauna," Langer said. "It will be a battle of endurance, fitness and skill and, again, that's why we love Test cricket."
New Zealand are ranked second compared to Australia's fifth but do not have history on their side as they aim for just their second series win in Australia following the 1985-86 victory. Asked whether he believed New Zealand had earned enough kudos for their climb up the rankings, Stead said the outcome of this series and the one to follow against India were important in making a judgement.
"I think after this summer you'll probably know a lot more," he said. "When you look at the programme we have - England, Australia and then India - you'd argue they are up there with the best teams in the world. When we get to end of the summer I think it's probably an easier time for me to answer that."
New Zealand had a daytime training session at Perth Stadium on Tuesday [they will train under lights again on Wednesday] and there was a scare when Ross Taylor took a nasty blow on the right hand from a throwdown. He immediately dropped his bat, ripped off the glove and left the net with the physio but he appeared to have escaped serious damage. An NZC spokesman said initial assessment suggested no fracture and there were no immediate plans to get it x-rayed.
There was already a fitness battle going on with Trent Boult having his first bowl since arriving in Australia as he aimed to overcome a side strain. He sent down two spells during the session at decent pace, between them having a lengthy conversation with captain Kane Williamson, Stead and bowling coach Shane Jurgensen.
"We've got to be really careful how we manage the next couple of days if we do think he's going to start," Stead said of Boult. "I don't think [today] you'll see him bowling 15 overs or anything, but he does need to be able to prove that he can get the intensity we want."
On some lively net pitches, Lockie Ferguson looked a handful, but he might need Boult to be ruled out in order to make his debut despite the attraction of his pace on the Perth Stadium pitch.
"I think most wickets will suit Lockie," Stead said. "He's certainly got pace and we are acutely aware of that and he's got a very good red-ball record. The hard thing for us is how he fits into the team, we've had some success with guys who have been consistently there.
"The pace would suit him, no doubt about it, people want to see the ball flying around - look at Australia's attack, they are built around [Mitchell] Starc, [Pat] Cummins and [Josh] Hazlewood - so if he gets a go it will be exciting."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo