Third Test – starts 2:00pm local time on Friday, November 27, 2015 at the Adelaide Oval
Australia – $1.60 at Crownbet.com
New Zealand – $4.60 at Sportsbet
Draw – $5.25 at www.WilliamHill.com
As international cricket enters a bold new era, so too does the Australian XI.
The inaugural day-night Test match in Adelaide will be their first following the retirement of Mitchell Johnson, who bowed out with immediate effect after the draw in Perth.
He joins a long list of Aussie veterans who have called it quits in 2015, including Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris.
Johnson’s absence has had little impact on the match odds, however, as online bookmaker CrownBet.com has the home side pegged as firm $1.60 favourites to win the third and final Test of the trans-Tasman series.
Indeed, many are viewing the 34-year-old seamer’s retirement as something of a blessing – none more so than the backers of Peter Siddle.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, the Victorian seamer – who has played only one Test this year – said he was ready to step in and offer his leadership to the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson.
“I’ve been around for just a little bit shorter time than Mitch [Johnson] but I’ve been around and played enough Test cricket, played enough around the world, to be able to give enough knowledge and experience to these guys,” Siddle said.
“All these guys debuted with me alongside them, especially Starcy and Patto a few years ago. Having that relationship with those guys – I grew up with a lot of them – I think I’ll be able to pass on enough to them and work alongside them. Obviously my skill set works well with the way their play their games.
“All in all we’re still in a good place. Starcy has shown over the past especially 12 months, the way he can perform, that he can take over that mantle as the type of player Mitch Johnson was in the [2013-14] Ashes: the fast, aggressive wicket-taker.
“Starcy has definitely shown in the past 12 months that he can fill that role – and fill it well.
“Cricket-wise we don’t lose too much [with Johnson’s retirement], but as a mate and a class player we definitely lose out. But I think there’s enough players around to cover the role from now on.”
Also in line for a recall is Pattinson, whose injury problems have kept him out of Test cricket since the tour of South Africa back in March 2014.
Many are tipping him to be swapped in for Hazlewood, but Victoria coach David Saker has expressed concern over whether the 25-year-old from Dandenong has enough match conditioning under his belt.
“I would have concerns if they produced another wicket like they did in the week just gone,” Saker told Fairfax media, referring to a flat WACA pitch which gave up some 1672 runs in the previous Test.
“If he’s in the field for a really long period of time and bowling spells I’m not sure he’s ready for that yet.
“I think their hand’s been forced a little bit by what happened to Mitch [Johnson]. I hope he goes well but I’m a little bit concerned he’s underdone.
“He hasn’t got any history of putting lots of games together. When you don’t have that you’ve always got questions, I’ll always doubt people who can’t play four or five Shield games in a row – how can they get through two or three Test matches?”
Meanwhile, New Zealand ($4.60 to win at Sportsbet.com) have spent the break since Perth acclimatising to the pink Kookaburra ball, which will make its international debut at the Adelaide Oval.
The Kiwis tried out the new rock during a day-night tour game against a Western Australia XI over the weekend, and Tim Southee admitted he and his teammates were still adjusting to it.
“We’re continuing to learn about what the pink ball is going to throw at us – just the way it reacts at certain times of the day and how you’re going to cope with different phases throughout the day,” the NZ seamer told the press this week.
“It does a little bit more under lights. That’s not an unknown, both sides know that. Both sides can swing the ball. It’s how you perform in that time when it does do a little bit.”
Southee is one of only three New Zealand players, alongside Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum, to have played Test cricket in the South Australian capital before.
He would remember a tame, even deck which offered very little sideways movement, as has been the norm at Adelaide for time immemorial.
But Australian back-up spinner Steve O’Keefe, who has played in all three day-night Sheffield Shield fixtures at the venue, has suggested things might be a little different this time around.
“I think that’s a result wicket out there without a doubt,” O’Keefe told the media during the week.
“For guys to make runs, I think it’s going to be significantly harder than what we’ve seen in the last two Tests. I think the ball will nip around a fair bit with that extra grass coverage. That certainly doesn’t happen out there a lot.
“With the pink ball, due to its characteristics, it swung a lot as well so I think that will be prevalent the whole game and it also spun from ball one.”
Australia team news
Mitch Johnson’s retirement means an all-but-certain recall for Peter Siddle, while James Pattinson might also come in should the selection panel decide to give Josh Hazlewood a rest.
Usman Khawaja’s hamstring injury could see Steven Smith stay at first drop, from where he scored a superb century in the second innings at Perth, with Shaun Marsh coming in to fill out the middle order.
There were rumours David Warner had re-broken his left thumb in fielding practice on Tuesday, but the in-form opener has continued training and is expected to line up as per usual on Friday.
Possible Australia XI: Warner, Burns, Smith (C), S Marsh, Voges, M Marsh, Nevill, Starc, Siddle, Pattinson, Lyon.
New Zealand team news
There was plenty of pressure on Martin Guptill after scores of 23, 23, 1 and 17 in the first two Tests, but the 28-year-old opener dispelled any whispers of an imminent axing with a free-flowing hundred in last weekend’s tour match.
Also under the microscope is Trent Boult, after NZ coach Mike Hesson admitted the left-arm swing bowler could be benched if he can’t prove his fitness and form in the nets this week.
Should Boult be sidelined, Mitchell McClenaghan or Neil Wagner would come in to round out the Kiwi pace attack.
Possible New Zealand XI: Guptill, Latham, Williamson, Taylor, McCullum (C), Watling, Bracewell, Henry, Southee, Boult.
Result – Australia to win ($1.60 at CrownBet)
First innings total – Australia under 435.5 ($1.85 at Sportsbet)
Highest opening partnership – New Zealand ($2.37 at Bet365)
As the regular red Kookaburras have copped a pounding on and off the field this series, all signs suggest the Adelaide curators will leave plenty of grass on the wicket to ensure the new pink ball holds up.
That means we can expect some lateral movement for the bowlers, who have battled through disappointingly unbalanced conditions in both Brisbane and Perth.
Throw in the fact both sides will be desperate to make history by winning the first day-night Test, and Steve O’Keefe’s prediction of a decisive result looks right on the money.
We’re backing the hosts to make it 2-0.
Top runscorer betting markets
Steven Smith ($3.75 at William Hill)
The captain led his side out of a tricky spot with an exceptional century in the second Test. He could well bat at three again in Khawaja’s absence, which would give him more opportunity at the crease than he saw at Brisbane or the first dig in Perth.
Brendon McCullum ($7 at Sportsbet)
The Kiwi captain has featured only in cameos so far this series, but we all know what he can do when he gets into his stride. He will fancy himself on the short square boundaries of the Adelaide Oval, regardless of whether or not the ball is moving off the deck.
Top wicket-taker odds
James Pattinson ($5 at Bet365)
Some folks forget how good this guy was before injuries forced him down the pecking order. He’s rebuilt his action, he’s taking wickets and bowling fast, and his knack for generating outswing could be hard to handle if he gets the nod ahead of Hazlewood ($4.50 at Bet365).
Doug Bracewell ($5 at William Hill)
His series figures of three wickets at 104.33 might not look too flash, but Bracewell was the obvious pick of the NZ bowlers at the WACA. A more lively wicket could see him cause the Aussies some problems if he maintains the kind of consistency he found in Perth.
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