Bulletpoints: Australia vs New Zealand – First Test
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Just the Facts: This time we’re previewing the Australia/New Zealand Test Series being played in Australia. It’s another two-test series, with the first match kicking off on Thursday the 1st of December at the Gabba in Brisbane, and the second game starting on the 9th of December at Bellerive Oval in Hobart. In the World Test Rankings, Australia are sitting forth, and the New Zealanders are placed second-last, above Bangladesh (and Zimbabwe, who are unranked).
- Thanks to the massive second test fightback against South Africa last month, Michael Clarke is still yet to lose a series – test match or ODI – since taking over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting in Sri Lanka earlier in the year.
- New Zealand almost suffered an ignominious defeat to Zimbabwe in a one-off test match last month, with Zimbabwe almost chasing down 366 to win. However, they spanked Australia A around Allan Border Field during their only warm up game for this series.
- The Australian team has been shuffled like a deck of cards, with Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson, Pat Cummins, Ryan Harris and Shaun Marsh, all of whom played in South Africa, will miss the first test due to injury. Two other players from that squad, spinner Michael Beer and paceman Trent Copeland, have been dropped by the new selection panel.
- The Kiwis haven’t won a test match against Australia since 1993, but with the team they’ve brought here under captain Ross Taylor they stand a significant chance of chalking up a win.
- Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson may have saved their immediate test careers during the second innings chase at the Wanderers, but they are still on notice and their form will be over-analysed and discussed over the coming summer.
Australia: Michael Clarke (C), David Warner, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (VC, WK), Peter Siddle, Ben Cutting, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson
New Zealand: Ross Taylor (C), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum (WK), Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson, Reece Young.
Italics denote verbs.
Killing Me: There’s a lot of anticipation for the Australia/India series starting in just under a month, but the New Zealand tour is the one that excites me, although for a different set of reasons. I’m going to state, for the record, that I’m a cricket nerd. I’m the cricketing equivalent to a wanky Arts student who likes boring niche artwork for its ‘expressionistic nature’ and ‘thoughtful hues.’
I like the prospect of an Australia/New Zealand test series because of what it offers me as a cricket fan; an injured Goliath versus a slightly indignant David – who’s also Goliath’s brother, sort of, but don’t you dare get them mixed up as one being a part of the other, oh no, they’re separate and not the same and one is not a state or indeed territory of the other and they never were and never will be thank you very much, one is better than the other at rugby and has nicer mountains and —
The Invisibles: When the Indians come to town they will be boasting a combined group of names to rival Coca Cola for billboard space: Tendulkar. Dravid. Sehwag. But when the New Zealanders come to town, the Australian public is always slightly confused: Who are these people? Where’s Chris Cairns? Are they going to do the haka?
But cricket purists adore the Kiwi team. I always have, because within their ranks lie some absolute gems, albeit unrefined and somewhat unfinished. Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder are genuine middle-order threats to Australia, and they’re in form after flaying the Australia A attack in Brisbane; Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum are established stars of the world game, and their pace attack features the nip of Tim Southee and the working-class grit of Chris Martin – whose name on the team sheet evokes cries of “awesome, I love Coldplay!”
It is around these established cricketers that the Black Caps build their team. Be it under Fleming, Vettori or Crowe, the virtues of the Kiwi team is that their culture and work ethic far outweighs that of other, perhaps more intimidating and bigger-paid, international teams. They rely on grit and hard work and one-another, and those qualities make for exciting underdogs. Around that core nucleus they’ve introduced some exciting younger prospects, an approach Australia has been forced to adopt due to their raft of injuries.
Special K and the other Dougie B: Kane Williamson, 21 and with the name of a comic book superhero, is New Zealand’s new number three. He’s coming off a run of scores of 3, 14, 284 not out, 49, 68, 86 not out and 100 not out, and could very well be the silent assassin who causes the most pain to Australia. Doug Bracewell, at 21 years of age, has played only 19 first class games but has already passed fifty wickets. He came out this week and stated that his team had the mongrel to beat Australia. The assembled journalists were left deflated when he explained that he was speaking in metaphor, and New Zealand would not be debuting an actual dog.
Paceman Be Good To Me: Australia’s bowling attack is the ‘least seasoned’ it has been for 23 years. Peter Siddle – with a vintage of 25 tests – is the attack leader by default. Weighing in as his subordinate with a mighty five tests under his belt is off-spinner Nathan Lyon. They’ll be marshalling a faceless group of bowlers with 126 first-class wickets to their name. Not sure whom ‘Pattinson’, ‘Cutting’ or ‘Starc’ is? Don’t stress – at Bulletpoints, we’re all about novel ways to getting to know your international cricketers.