|Boult and Southee|
Its twenty six years since the Kiwis have beaten Australia in a Test series, so to say they are long overdue is somewhat an understatement of the same ilk as Tony Abbott was unpopular. They came close last time when, after being thrashed in Brisbane by Michael Clarke (139) and James Pattinson (5-28), they pulled off one of the most compelling victories by either nation, in far-flung Hobart. That was four years ago but a lot has happened since.
Are Brendon McCullum's team real contenders in Australia? The common theme of discussions seems to go along the line that they can't cope with the bounce of Australian pitches; that their nice guy persona will easily fall foul and fold under the relentless Australian verbal barrage; that McCullum, in particular, can be got at in that time honoured way we start against touring sides every October - singling out the opposing Captain and setting loose the attack dogs. David Warner has been growling all week.
"to say they are long overdue is somewhat an understatement of the same ilk as Tony Abbott was unpopular"
In the last three years, the Kiwis have lost only one series (England 2013). If beating the West Indies at home (twice) doesn't impress you, then wins over India and Sri Lanka should. At the height of England's powers, three years ago, the Poms couldn't beat them in any of three Tests in the Shaky Isles. Many would say so what? Okay, if you aren't impressed by that, then consider a drawn series in Bangladesh (at least they went there), a win in the West Indies (admittedly, everyone does that these days), but in the last twelve months they drew in the UAE and England*. If it hadn't been for a batting collapse on the last day at Lords, they would have beaten England and no one has won a series against Pakistan in their new home. That's no one. The only time Australia went to the UAE, they lost both Tests comfortably.
*Note: this was the same England who only two moths later had taken the Ashes from Michael Clarke.
What about the World Cup? The Kiwis, unbeatable at home, lost the final in Melbourne after their batting had more brain farts than a room full of pensioners. Good point but not relevant.
|Kane Williamson making 132 at Lords|
Most reasonable, close watchers of the game would judge their new ball attack to be among the best in the world and in Australian conditions, especially in Brisbane, the ability of Tim Southee (10) and Trent Boult (5) to hoop the ball about will trouble the Australians, none of which like the ball moving through the air or off the deck. Bounce the Australians and they'll have no problem. Swing and cut is another story. Australia's best in the rankings are a fading Mitch Johnson (6) but its in the bowling that Australia has more depth. If the Kiwis don't get bags of wickets from their new ball bowlers, they will struggle because Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell and Mark Craig have precious little to concern the Australians. By comparison, the form bowler in the few weeks of this new Australian season, Mitch Starc, will raise plenty of concerns and either of Josh Hazlewood or Peter Siddle, backed by Nathan Lyon, give the Australian's the better rounded attack. They will have to bowl a great deal better than they did in England but home conditions will help.
"If the Kiwis don't get bags of wickets from their new ball bowlers, they will struggle"
|Usman Khawaja has done his|
homework this time.
The Australian bowling in England was poor. Johnson seemed to be constantly in third gear and on the few occasions he lifted to his threatening best, he seemed to quickly retreat and opt for line and length. It was like watching a Ferrari on the school pick up run. Hazlewood was like your first girlfriend - lots of promise but no results. He lost his way and in the end, Root, Cook and Bell neutralised him and he didn't know what length to bowl and where to aim. Siddle was by far the best bowler and he didn't get to play until it was all over, red rover. One wonders if the selectors will be prepared to make the same mistake in this series. Media talk has mentioned his age but he's three years younger than Johnson! Lyon did his job in the Old Dart and will do it again here but let's not rely on him routing the Kiwis on the last day of a Test.
"Johnson in England was like watching a Ferrari on the school pick up run"
|A lot rests on Starc|
Its a shame more bowlers weren't pressing the incumbents. With Johnson aging and losing his sting, Starc unreliable, Hazlewood still new and uncertain and Siddle unwanted, this is the poorest bowling attack the men under the Southern Cross have consistently HAD to assemble in many years. The likely lads have all fallen by the wayside to injury and the cupboard is now more empty than bare.
Brisbane and Perth will be fast and dangerous, which will suit the home team, so the series maybe decided, as was the Ashes, by curators and the whim of the toss. Adelaide, the ultimate gamble, hopefully won't count, for the conditions and circumstances there are truly an experiment and one driven by money more than sporting innovation.
"the Australians are happy to assert their brand and are in your face"
Despite all of this, the outcome could still well be a lottery. Any cricketragic who has earned the title should be salivating.