Matthew Wade will captain Australia for the first time as Australia look to maintain their grasp on the Chappell-Hadlee trophy.
Australia aren’t fielding as much experience as many would have predicted, but a surprise injury to captain Steve Smith took everyone off guard. The Australian National Selection Panel held an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon to decide on who will captain the side in New Zealand as well as finding a replacement for Smith.
Aaron Finch, originally named in the touring squad, was many pundits’ pick to take reigns for the Chappell-Hadlee series. Out of the entire squad, Finch is the only player with international captaincy experience. Finch captained Australia in T20 cricket between 2014 and 2016, but his experience is relatively small in that role as the side only played six T20 internationals in that time.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 27, 2017
George Bailey was rumoured to be a late captaincy option when Smith went down. Bailey has captained Australia 29 times in One Day Internationals.
But the captaincy has been given to wicket-keeper Matthew Wade. After leading Victoria to two Sheffield Shield titles, he is the most proven in terms of leadership at the first-class level. Wade has also become a regular selection for Australia in the 50-over form of the game, and he becomes just the third wicket-keeper to captain the national side.
Steve Smith Injures Ankle Ligament: Out For Ten Days
Smith suffered a medial ligament injury in his left ankle during Thursday’s final ODI against Pakistan in Adelaide. The injury, which medical staff say is minor, has a recovery time of just over a week.
With a crucial Test series against India coming up shortly after the New Zealand tour, Australian selectors don’t want to risk any more aggravation to Smith’s ankle. It is expected that Smith will join the Australian side for their training camp in Dubai.
Smith is in some of his best career form with the bat and expressed disappointment at his inability to keep getting time out in the middle.
Australia Return To Ground Of Horrors
The opening encounter between Australia and New Zealand takes place at Eden Park in Auckland on Monday. It is a ground that the visitors don’t have the finest record at, but also the scene of some of the finest and most nail-biting matches between the two nations.
In 2015, Mitchell Starc came within one wicket of an historic comeback victory for Australia in a spell of 6/28 after his side had posted a lacklustre total of 151. The following year, Martin Guptill hit one of the biggest sixes on record at Eden Park, a firm message in what was one of Australia’s heaviest defeats ever to New Zealand.
On a ground with traditionally short boundaries, Australia will be looking to bat first if the pitch is at good as anticipated. A total of 400 will be required for a side to be in the driving seat, and despite the omission of several key name, Australia have the batting power to do just that.