Second Test – starts 10:30am local time on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
$3.05 at CrownBet.com
ICC ranking: 6th
Test form: D L W W L
$1.92 at CrownBet.com
ICC ranking: 1st
Test from: W D W W W
THOSE who doubted Australia’s ability to handle the swinging ball in Wellington are now eating a healthy serving of humble pie.
The visitors retained the Trans-Tasman Trophy with an emphatic victory in the first Test, handing New Zealand their first innings defeat on home soil in 19 years.
That result also saw Steven Smith become the first Australian captain since Warwick Armstrong in 1920-21 to go undefeated in his first 10 Tests as skipper.
The hosts may consider themselves somewhat unfortunate, given Adam Voges went on to make 239 after an erroneous no-ball call from umpire Richard Illingworth gifted him a reprieve early in his innings.
But one can’t take anything away from the Aussies, who took an enormous advantage on day one when they dismissed the Kiwis for only 183.
They will have to reshuffled their attack for Christchurch, however, after Peter Siddle was ruled out with back problems which limited his bowling contributions in the second innings of the first Test.
“Peter experienced some discomfort in his back during the first Test in Wellington and has not recovered sufficiently enough to play the Test,” Cricket Australia’s physio David Beakley told the press this week.
“At this stage the plan is for him to stay with the squad in Christchurch for the remainder of the tour before returning to Melbourne for further investigation.”
Siddle will be replaced by his fellow Victorian paceman James Pattinson, who missed out on the series opener due to concerns over his own fitness after an injury layoff.
But the 25-year-old declared himself “ready to go” when speaking to media in Christchurch on Thursday, adding that he was looking forward to playing on a pitch which is expected to offer plenty for the seamers.
“As fast bowlers we’ve had to work hard for our wickets over the last six months in Australia, the wickets have been quite flat,” Pattinson said.
“We come over here and we’ve got some green wickets. We’re licking our lips, which is great. I know all the bowlers are pretty pumped and I think the green wicket should play into our hands pretty well, hopefully.”
The Kiwis will also undergo a personnel change for the second Test, with Doug Bracewell – the man who was incorrectly no-balled by umpire Illingworth at the Basin – to sit out after straining the rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Either Matt Henry or Neil Wagner will step in to replace the right-arm seamer, who joins Ross Taylor and Mitchell Santner on the sidelines.
“Doug has been a consistent performer for us this summer and put a lot of work into his game, so to miss out on the final Test against Australia is very disappointing for him and us,” New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said earlier this week.
“He’ll be given time to recover and we’ll work with him to get him back training as quickly as possible.”
While the Australians look to make it 4-0 for the summer against their near neighbours, New Zealand will hope to restore some pride and send off one of their favourite sons in style.
This will be Brendon McCullum’s final appearance in international cricket, bringing the curtain down on a glorious and multi-faceted career which has seen him become one of the game’s most daring and respected leaders.
It will be an emotional farewell at Hagley Oval, and Black Caps fast bowler Trent Boult admitted the outgoing captain would be “sorely missed” by the players and fans alike.
“I think there was a lot of emotion in this one [in Wellington] to be honest,” Boult told the press on Wednesday.
“But his last one – it’s going to be pretty sad, to be honest. Everyone has played with him for that long and he’s good mates with everyone in the team. We’re all looking forward to running out with him for the last time.
“He’s changed the game, in a way. The way the New Zealanders have got behind cricket, behind the team, is because of him and his style of play, his attacking captaincy.
“He’s going to be sorely missed. We’ll look forward to running out with him one last time and then I’m sure he’s left the team in good hands.”
New Zealand vs. Australia teams
Possible NZ XI: Guptill, Latham, Williamson, Nicholls, McCullum (C), Anderson, Watling, Craig, Henry, Southee, Boult.
Possible Australia XI: Burns, Warner, Khawaja, Smith (C), Voges, M Marsh, Nevill, Pattinson, Hazlewood, Bird, Lyon.
Result – Australia to win ($1.92 at CrownBet.com)
Top Australian bowler – James Pattinson ($4 at WilliamHill.com)
Man of the match – Usman Khawaja ($8.50 at CrownBet.com)
As much as the true cricket fans out there will be hoping for a fairytale finish to McCullum’s career, the smart money is on Australia after their dominant display in Wellington.
Siddle’s injury is a blow, but it gives Pattinson – the quickest of the available Aussie bowlers – a chance to wreak havoc on a pitch which should suit his deadly outswingers.
With Hazlewood and Lyon in good wicket-taking form and the likes of Voges, Khawaja and Smith showing excellent touch with the bat, the hosts will have to lift their game in every department if they’re to have any chance of squaring the series.
Brendon McCullum betting markets
When the final wicket falls at Christchurch, international cricket will bid farewell to one of its greatest entertainers.
It’s hard to imagine a New Zealand team without McCullum, who has been a mainstay ever since stepping into the ODI team as a brash wicketkeeper-batsman back in 2002.
For many years he was pegged as a short-form specialist – a wonderful slogger and a competent glovesman, but lacking the depth of ability or application required to truly excel in Test cricket.
The latter half of McCullum’s career has made an absolute of nonsense of that notion, especially since he took over the captaincy in 2012.
No single event highlighted his transformation into a world-class, team-oriented leader better than his innings at Wellington in 2014, when he became the first Kiwi to notch a triple century in a Test match.
He has also won universal plaudits for his positive and highly aggressive approach as a captain, which has made New Zealand one of the most watchable and popular teams on the planet.
It would be more than fitting if McCullum were to sign off with a big captain’s knock at Christchurch, and you can bet there will be plenty of money coming in for him to do just that.
Man of the match – $13 with Sportsbet
Top New Zealand runscorer – $6.50
To score 50 in the first innings – $2.50
To score 100 in the first innings – $6.50
Over/under 28.5 runs in the first innings – $1.88
To score a century in the match – $4.50
Odds provided by www.Sportsbet.com.au
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