Australia v New Zealand - ODI Series Preview

Australia v New Zealand - ODI Series Preview

Australia Host New Zealand in 3-Match Chappell-Hadlee Series 

Australia and New Zealand renew Trans-Tasman rivalries when they clash in a 3-match Chappell-Hadlee ODI series starting at the SCG today. The teams have met a number of times over the past couple of seasons, including 2-0 victories for Australia in both Test tours in Australia and New Zealand. In the ODI format the Kiwis have had some more success, beating Australia in February in the most recent 3-match Chappell-Hadlee series. The Kiwis also managed a win over Australia in Auckland in their World Cup preliminary game, however were blown away by 7 wickets in the game that mattered in the World Cup Final at the MCG.

Both sides are coming into this series off Test exertions, with Australia having lost a home series 2-1 to South Africa. Australia's ODI form has been patchy at best this year with a 2-1 loss in New Zealand in February, and an impressive 4-1 victory in Sri Lanka, before a weakened side was drubbed 5-0 in South Africa. The Kiwis are on a high after a home 2-0 victory over Pakistan in their recently completed Test series. Whilst they were beaten 3-2 in their most recent ODI series in India, the side performed well against a strong opponent in foreign conditions. 

New Zealand Heavy Underdogs

The Kiwis head to Australian shores missing some key pieces to their ODI outfit and as heavy underdogs. Returning to the country where the two sides fought out a World Cup Final in February 2015, New Zealand will be keen to erase memories of a painfully one sided game, where a side, bristling with energy and momentum, saved their worst for last. Since that World Cup Final the Black Caps have lost experienced trio Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori and Grant Elliott to retirement. Experienced batsman Ross Taylor is out with an eye injury, whilst Corey Anderson, Michael McClenahan and Adam Milne are also out injured.

Key for the Kiwis with the bat will be experienced opener Martin Guptilland captain Kane Williamson. Guptill has ten ODI centuries and averages 42 at the top of the order and, with some inexperience in the middle order, will need a big score or two in this series if New Zealand  have ambitions of winning this series. Williamson averages 46 in the ODI format and was considered by some as close to the best player in the world at times in the last 18 months. With the ball, the Kiwis will be able to call upon both Tim Southee and Trent Boult, the trusted opening bowling pair that led the team to a memorable 2015 World Cup campaign with their ability to swing the ball and hit good areas. 

Australia Close To Full Strength 

Australia, fresh from their 5-0 drubbing in South Africa, have taken a far different approach into this series. Perhaps stung by a combination of the media backlash to their weakened line up in South Africa, the series clean sweep that ensued and the flow on effects from a rare home Test series loss, wisely, Australian selectors have opted for a full strength outfit here. Without doubt South Africa gathered confidence and momentum from their ODI series win against Australia, while Australia took too long to get going, down 2-1 in the Test Series. Australia have summoned their three best ODI bowlers in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, a combination that hit New Zealand hard in the World Cup final of 2015 when Australia won convincingly.  Adam Zampa having performed admirably in his opportunities goes in as Australia's Number 1 spinner with an opportunity to further cement that role. 

Whilst Mitchell Marsh has fallen out of favour at Test level, he remains by far Australia's best ODI all-rounder alongside James Faulkner. There may not be room for both, however, in the final 11, while a choice may also have to be made between Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head for the batter/part time spinner option in  the middle of the order. David Warner was the lone stand out in Australia's humiliating 5-0 in South Africa, peeling off two masterful centuries on his way to over 350 runs for the series. While Aaron Finch, George Bailey and Steve Smith had poor tours of South Africa, they have been in decent form during the domestic summer back home,  and Australia needs more production out of them this series. 

Maxwell's Comments Unwise 

I am all for having personalities in sport and for encouraging players to talk freely and honestly to the media rather than the robotic cliches that are often served up. However, there are different ways of doing this, and Glenn Maxwell probably put his foot right in with his comments about Victorian and Australian team mate Matthew Wade. I think, by and large, his comment probably had some truth to it - it would be a little galling to be batting behind Wade. However, Maxwell clearly has issues with Victoria.  

I'm a real fan of Maxwell as a player overall and I think he should be considered in all three formats of the game. He is an explosive player that can turn a game in half and hour, however at the moment he seems a restless character at war with factions in Australia's cricket set up.  However, you have to wonder why he is being consistently left out of Australian touring parties and even Victorian sides, because it is not talent that is getting in his way. In some respects it's not even results and that is perhaps even more concerning for Maxwell. Despite averaging 56 for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield the previous season, new coach Andrew McDonald found reason to leave Maxwell out of the side to start this season.

Whilst from the punter looking in that decision looks baffling,  things likes Maxwell's attitude around the group and his commitment are hard to gauge from the outside. Whatever the case, Maxwell's comments have gone down like a lead balloon within the Australian camp, and the pressure on him to perform has only probably intensified.