Captain Daniel Vettori wants to fill Jacob Oram’s giant boots at No 7 while young paceman Tim Southee is facing a recall as New Zealand nail down their first cricket test side to face Australia.
The tourists trained on a sun-drenched Sydney Cricket Ground today ahead of Thursday’s four-day warmup match against New South Wales before next week’s first test in Brisbane.
While Vettori was bombarded with questions about his opposite Ricky Ponting’s mental state after Australia’s 0-2 series defeat in India, New Zealand have plenty on their minds.
Primarily, their comparative lack of cricket which includes just a short tour of Bangladesh, the scheduling of a solitary warmup match in Australia, and the absence of key allrounder Oram (back).
Vettori said he would bat No 7 against NSW and they would play four pacemen as he showed their hand for Brisbane, with allrounder Grant Elliott and paceman Mark Gillespie looking the likely drinks carriers.
“I’ve had the form under my belt but it’s a different scenario when you go up the order. There’s more expectations on you and I’m going to have to try and fill what is a very tough spot to fill,” Vettori said.
“Whatever my role is, it’s still important as captain to be the leading performer. That’s what I’ve tried to do since I’ve taken over the job and hopefully even when conditions don’t suit it’s still my role.”
He took that to a new level in the first test in Chittagong, single handedly winning the match with scores of 55 not out and 76, a nd a combined nine for 133 with the ball.
The SCG is known as a spin-friendly surface which will offer a transition from the dead Bangladeshi pitches, before Brisbane which has overtaken Perth as the fastest surface in Australia.
“It’s difficult, particularly that first test match at the Gabba. It’s notorious for having a little bit in the wicket and the seamers tend to dominate, so that’s something we won’t have faced for a long time,” Vettori said.
Vettori said Kyle Mills and Iain O’Brien were automatic selections, while senior paceman Chris Martin should return after missing Bangladesh with an injured hamstring.
Southee had his nose in front of Gillespie, Vettori said, meaning a likely third test appearance for the 20-year-old Northlander after an encouraging debut tour of England where he was named player of the ODI series.
Vettori said he was leading the nucleus of a good side, but their inexperienced batting lineup with first-year test players Aaron Redmond, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder and Daniel Flynn, and the Black Caps’ world test ranking of seventh hinted at a tough tour against the world No 1.
Australia’s fourth test capitulation in Nagpur offered no comfort.
“The Australian team’s performances in their own country in the last few years have been almost impeccable,” Vettori said.
“I’m sure they’ll be hurting as a side after losing the test series. They’ll come back pretty strong so it’s almost a worse position to be in than if they’d won the series.”
Butt he admitted it was a strange feeling arriving in Australia with their captain and team being pilloried in the media as they fly home.
Ponting’s decision to bowl his part-timers on the fourth day at Nagpur to avoid a possible suspension for slow over rates, when they had India under pressure, was slammed by former captains Allan Border and Ian Chappell.
The Melbourne Herald-Sun‘s senior cricket writer Jon Pierik wrote: “It was a miserable match for Australia’s second-most successful skipper, perhaps his darkest day since replacing Steve Waugh”.