Khawaja and Burns were omitted as Australia did not want to tinker with a settled batting line-up © Getty Images
Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns will enter Australia’s tilt for the No.1 Test ranking without a single warm-up innings on New Zealand soil, after the national selectors resisted temptation to significantly alter the ODI squad.
The only concession to the two Tests in Wellington and Christchurch was the omission of Nathan Lyon after his indifferent displays against India at home, opening up room for the legspinner Adam Zampa to make his international debut while the panel deliberate on his possible inclusion in the World Twenty20 squad.
Lyon will instead play in the Sheffield Shield match being played between New South Wales and Western Australia at New Zealand Cricket headquarters in Lincoln near Christchurch. However, Khawaja and Burns will be expected to make the Trans-Tasman adjustments from home, playing for Queensland.
Despite his stunning run of form in the Big Bash League following on from a breakout Test summer, Khawaja remained surplus to a settled ODI batting line-up, as the captain Steven Smith had predicted. The likes of Aaron Finch and George Bailey are a long way from Test calculation, but have done nothing to deserve omission from the 50-over team.
The selection chairman Rod Marsh acknowledged that coping with foreign conditions was the greatest blind spot of the Australian side, something shown in 2015 during the Ashes but also in their lone loss of the World Cup, against New Zealand at a raucous Eden Park.
“We know one of the biggest challenges we will face in New Zealand is adapting to the change in conditions,” he said. “It has been well documented that this is something we have struggled with in recent times and a major focus for this squad will be to reverse that trend.
“The New Zealand side will be very tough to beat in their home conditions. We know we will need to be at the top of our game if we want to be competitive.”
Marsh said the panel’s preference was for Lyon to get some time bowling in a first-class environment before the Test matches, while also deliberating on the value of Zampa, who again bowled well for the Melbourne Stars in the BBL final on Sunday night.
“We have selected Adam Zampa as the spinning option for this tour in place of Nathan Lyon,” Marsh said. “We want Nathan to use the NSW versus West Australia Sheffield Shield match in New Zealand as preparation for the Test Series and this will give us a chance to have a good look at Adam ahead of the ICC World T20.
“Adam has certainly put forward a strong case for selection through good performances in the Big Bash as well as the Matador Cup earlier in the season and we think he has thoroughly earned this opportunity.”
The captain Smith and his deputy David Warner will be leaving Australia on Saturday in order to prepare in advance for New Zealand, having been rested from the latter two T20 internationals against India that follow Tuesday’s opening match on Australia Day in Adelaide.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo