Trans-Tasman rivals prepare for battle on neutral ground

Match facts

June 2, 2017
Start time 10.30am local (0930 GMT)

Will Australia’s vaunted seam attack show up on the first day? © Getty Images

Big picture

The 2015 World Cup proved that Australia and New Zealand were good hosts, and not in a “would you like a cup of tea and a freshly-baked biscuit?” kind of way. On the contrary, while Australia and New Zealand gorged themselves, their visitors all left hungry. They were good hosts in the sense that in the matches they hosted, they were damn good. New Zealand won every game they hosted (including against Australia in Auckland) and Australia won every game they hosted (including the final against New Zealand at the MCG). Home ground advantage was decisive throughout the World Cup. Now, both teams find themselves in another ODI world tournament, but this time as visitors. How will they cope in someone else’s lounge-room? And with England 200km away in London while Australia and New Zealand meet in Birmingham, will they find the tea-bags and jaffa cakes?

But if the conditions are foreign, at least Australia and New Zealand should be familiar with each other. In the past six months alone they have played two Chappell-Hadlee series: Australia won in Australia and New Zealand won in New Zealand (what a surprise). Last time they met in an ODI on neutral soil was at this very ground, Edgbaston, in the previous Champions Trophy in 2013, in a match that was washed out.

Australia enter this game with a pay dispute simmering away – and in fact threatening to boil over – back home, and Steven Smith must ensure his men put the issue to the side for the next few weeks. But perhaps more significant for their hopes at this tournament, Australia’s ODI side has not played together for nearly four months, other than a single warm-up game against Sri Lanka. Their other warm-up, against Pakistan, was washed out. New Zealand played a tri-series in Ireland last month and a series against South Africa in March, and may well find themselves in the 50-over mindset more readily than the Australians.

If the ball swings, the pace attacks of both sides will be key. This is the first time Australia have had their four strike fast bowlers – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson – all available for the same series, though it is unlikely all four will play in this game. For New Zealand, Trent Boult and Tim Southee have the potential to swing their way through any batting line-up, with Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan as other frontline options. But if there is little movement for the fast men, expect big totals at Edgbaston.

Certainly both teams know that victory in this first game will go a long way towards securing progression from their group, with fixtures against Bangladesh and hosts England still to come. Now it’s just a question of which formidable host is a better visitor.

Form guide

Australia LLWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LWWWL

In the spotlight

David Warner played international cricket in England for the first time during the World Twenty20 in 2009, and since then has played 23 internationals in England across all formats. He is yet to score a century in the country. His record in England (average of 31.75 across all formats) is not quite so bad as his record in India (average 21.30) but still, if Warner can find a way to score big runs in this country for the first time, it will go a long way towards Australia having success in this campaign. Certainly his recent ODI form is encouraging for the Australians – in the past 12 months he has made 1409 ODI runs with eight centuries.

Australia’s batsmen must have nightmares about Trent Boult with a white ball in hand. At Eden Park during the World Cup, his five-wicket haul set up New Zealand’s win and Australia’s only defeat of the tournament. At Seddon Park earlier this year, his 6 for 33 again destroyed Australia and secured the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy for New Zealand. In all, against Australia Boult has 24 ODI wickets at 18.41 – nearly twice as many victims as he has against any other team.

Team news

Steven Smith indicated on match eve that Australia were unlikely to pick all of Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Pattinson, and the most likely scenario is that Pattinson will miss out for either John Hastings or the batting allrounder Marcus Stoinis. Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head provide all-round spin options, which could mean Adam Zampa get squeezed out of the line-up.

Australia: (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Travis Head, 6 Chris Lynn, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 John Hastings/Marcus Stoinis, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Pat Cummins, 11 Josh Hazlewood.

New Zealand have a couple of decisions to make. Does Tom Latham or Luke Ronchi take the gloves and partner Martin Guptill at the top of the order? And how do they balance that attack, with so many allrounders and frontline bowling options? Choices, bro.

New Zealand: (possible) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Tom Latham/Luke Ronchi (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Neil Broom, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 James Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Colin de Grandhomme/Adam Milne/Mitchell McClenaghan, 11 Trent Boult.

Pitch and conditions

Runs positively piled up in the warm-up games at Edgbaston, where Bangladesh’s 341 was chased down by Pakistan, and Sri Lanka’s 356 was overhauled by New Zealand. There is the possibility of a shower or thunderstorm on Friday.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia and New Zealand have met in four completed Champions Trophy matches, all of which have been won by Australia – including the final in 2009
  • The all-time leading wicket taker in Champions Trophy matches is a New Zealander, though unfortunately for New Zealand not one who is playing in this tournament: Kyle Mills
  • Over the past three years Australia and New Zealand have met in 11 ODIs; in the previous three years they met only once

Quotes

“They’ve got some good new-ball bowlers who can swing the ball around, and if there’s a bit there we’ll have to be quite watchful. If it’s good batting and the sun is out, then hopefully we can put a bit of pressure on those guys.”
Steven Smith on New Zealand

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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