Steve Smith and Australia may be the favourites to win back the Chapple-Hadlee Trophy on home soil, but there is much more than that riding on this series.
Despite winning the day/night Test match against South Africa in Adelaide last week, Smith and his men have been heavily criticised for their lack of form so far this summer. Batting collapses haven’t helped the cause, but this in many ways is a new-look batting line-up for Australia.
Traditionally, Australia’s one-day squad has been a little different to those selected for the longer form of the game.
The power-hitting Aaron Finch returns for the series, and coupled with an underperforming David Warner, Australia have every reason to make an impact against their trans-Tasman rivals. George Bailey takes his place in the middle order, and the versatile Mitchell Marsh will be hungry for revenge after what happened the last time he batted against New Zealand.
It was Monday, February 6 this year, in front of a full house of Kiwi fans at Hamilton’s Seddon Park in the Chappell Hadlee Trophy decider.
Marsh chopped Matt Henry’s delivery onto his foot, it bounced off, and carried into the hands of the bowler. Everyone figured that the ball had hit the pitch at some point; no one really questioned if Marsh’s wicket may have been up for grabs.
But seconds later everything changed. Marsh was about to be given out, in less than ideal circumstances.
Captain Smith accused umpires of being swayed by seeing replays on the big screen, and Australian writers said that New Zealand crowds had “a mob mentality” when it came to their archrivals. The umpires, after seeing the replay, decided to send Marsh back to the pavilion, and it proved to be a turning point in the match.
New Zealand would go on to bowl Australia out in the 43rd over, winning the match by 55 runs and reclaiming the silverware.
But despite this, Australia are still the No.1 ranked ODI side in the world. Should they lose this series, however, that spot will go to New Zealand.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) December 1, 2016
Dynamic all-rounders James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell will play a key role in this campaign, while the likes of Adam Zampa and Travis Head will be eager to contribute after being blooded in the national set-up last summer.
Maxwell is looking to deflect attention from controversial comments he made this week about his Victorian captain – and Australian teammate – Matthew Wade.
Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc – the 2015 World Cup player of the tournament whose first-over dismissal of Brendon McCullum was the pivotal moment of the final – is under an injury cloud.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) December 2, 2016
This year’s series gets underway at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday afternoon. Following that, the teams head to the Manuka Oval in Canberra two days later, before finishing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday, December 9.
The Chapple-Hadlee Trophy will be up for grabs twice this summer, with the second series taking place in New Zealand at the end of January.
Steven Smith (capt)
Matthew Wade (wk)
New Zealand Squad:
Kane Williamson (c)
Colin de Grandhomme
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) December 1, 2016
Overall, the win count between the two sides is dead even in Chappell-Hadlee competition. In 27 games, each side has 12 wins to their name, with just three games ending in a no-result.
Kane Williamson, captain of New Zealand, expects a formidable challenge as Australia look to win back the Chapple-Hadlee Trophy on home soil. Black Caps coach Mike Hesson believes that the series provides his side with a huge chance to prove themselves.
“We’ve got an exciting group of players but perhaps not as experienced we’ve been in the past, so that provides excellent opportunity,” Hesson said.
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) December 2, 2016
After missing the recent Test match against Pakistan due to a knee injury, key New Zealand pace-man Trent Boult has been linked to a return in Sydney.
His inclusion, if it happens, will be a big boost to New Zealand’s bowling stocks. Boult, in particular, has tormented the Australian batsmen in recent seasons, including a stellar seven-wicket performance at Eden Park during the 2015 World Cup.
World Cup heroes McCullum, Daniel Vettori and Grant Elliott have all retired from international duty, while fellow Black Caps stalwart Ross Taylor will sit out the series to undergo eye surgery.
The loss of these experienced campaigners means the likes of Williamson, Boult, Tim Southee and Martin Guptill – the latter desperate to impress after being dumped from the Test side – need to step up.
All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme will be one Kiwi to watch after making a stunning entry to the Test cricket scene against Pakistan last month.
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) December 2, 2016