With the Cricket World Cup final a fading memory in most minds, attention switched to the burning question of when Australia and New Zealand were going to have another chance to meet and battle things out for overall victory of the Tasman rivals. The answer was soon provided when tour dates were announced that see New Zealand travel to Australia for a three-test tour starting on November 5th.
Blackcaps Australian Test Squad Announced
New Zealand has picked a strong and experienced Test squad (no new caps have been named) to play in this highly anticipated tour. In overview the 15-man squad contains two all-rounders, four front-line pace bowlers, cover for both the batting line-up and wicket-keeper and just one spinner. Captain Brendon McCullum and star batsman Ross Taylor both return to the line-up well-rested and fighting fit to lead a highly motivated squad against a relatively unknown and perhaps less experienced Aussie squad.
Swing-twins Tim Southee and Trent Boult are both back in action and eager to get a jump-start on their rivals with the newly introduced pink ball which will be used in the day/night Test at Adelaide Oval. Both bowlers were left out of the African tour after sustaining injuries in England and their return with restore the usual and much needed depth back to the Blackcaps Test line-up. Doug Bracewell, who exceeded all expectations during their African tour and World Cup hero Matt Henry will battle things out for the third seamer option.
Jimmy Neesham, who has been out of cricket for what seems like an age with a back injury, has finally made his way back into the team. He is the only change from the team that toured to England earlier this year, replacing his Otago team-mate, Neil Wagner, in the set-up.
Coach Mike Hesson has expressed their desire to have a sixth bowling option that can get through aggressive and proactive overs while offering something with the bat, making Neesham the obvious choice to be selected in conjunction with fellow all-rounder Corey Anderson.
Adam Milne (who is still looking to make his Test debut) has been left out of the squad due to medical concerns and the desire to maximise his cricket career as long as possible. While he did make a return to field during their African tour after picking up an injury in the latter half of the World Cup, Milne was unable to bowl two days in a row, clearly ruling him out of a Test position.
Mark Craig has retained his place as the sole spinner in the squad while leg-spinner Ish Sodhi will play for New Zealand A. Hesson has hinted at the possibility of bringing in a second spinner towards the end of the tour but who exactly that might be has not been decided yet.
Overall, this tour has fairly high expectations to meet. Not only will it see the first ever day/night pink ball Test match on November 27th, Australia will be coming off a relatively dismal Ashes tour while New Zealand will look to continue their successful, aggressive and entertaining cricket.
If the Blackcaps emerge victorious, it will be the first time they have won a trans-Tasman tour since 1999. It would be a poor life decision to miss this one.
BLACKCAPS Test squad to Australia 2015
Brendon McCullum (captain)