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All you need to know: Black Caps v Australia first test

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Feb 2024, 9:22AM

All you need to know: Black Caps v Australia first test

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Feb 2024, 9:22AM

All you need to know about the first test in the two-match series between New Zealand and Australia. 

What time is New Zealand vs Australia? 

The first ball will be bowled at 11am on Thursday, February 29. 

How to watch New Zealand vs Australia? 

Listen to ball-by-ball commentary of every Black Caps match this summer live and free on iHeart Radio with The Alternative Commentary Collective. You can also follow the action with the Herald live blog. 

Both tests will be on TVNZ’s Duke and streamed on TVNZ+. 

Previous test form 

New Zealand: W, W, W, L, W. 

Australia: L, W, W, W, W. 

(Most recent first) 

New Zealand vs Australia’s last five test results 

February 2016: Australia won by an innings and 52 runs. 

February 2016: Australia won back seven wickets. 

December 2019: Australia won by 296 runs. 

December 2019: Australia won by 247 runs. 

January 2020: Australia won by 279 runs. 

How did the last test between New Zealand and Australia go? 

Australia dominated New Zealand once again, securing a comprehensive 3-0 series victory and concluding their home Test summer with a perfect 5-0 record at the overcast Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). 

Facing a target of 416 for victory, New Zealand found themselves in immediate trouble. Tom Blundell, Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, and Glenn Phillips fell in quick succession on a deteriorating pitch. Nathan Lyon, employing a combination of sharp spin and straight deliveries with significant bounce, sealed the deal after tea. Lyon’s exceptional performance, coupled with some subpar batting from New Zealand and a remarkable catch by James Pattinson, resulted in him claiming ten wickets in the match. 

Ross Taylor became New Zealand’s top runscorer with 7174, going past former captain Stephen Fleming’s 7172 runs. 

New Zealand squad vs Australia 

Tim Southee (c), Tom Blundell, Henry Nicholls, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, William O’Rourke, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young. 

Australia squad vs New Zealand 

Pat Cummins (c), Steven Smith (vc), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marcus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc. 

Batters to watch 

Kane Williamson: 1298 runs from 10 matches, average of 86.53. 

Usman Khawaja: 855 runs from 10 matches, average of 45. 

Steven Smith: 687 runs from 10 matches, average of 40.41. 

Bowlers to watch 

Tim Southee: 29 wickets from 10 matches, economy of 2.71. 

Mitchell Starc: 43 wickets from nine matches, economy of 4.21. 

Pat Cummins: 42 wickets from 10 matches, economy of 3.57. 

Can the Black Caps break the 31-year curse? 

The richly anticipated test series between the Black Caps and Australia arrives on Thursday, with much hope from the hosts they can snap one of their worst runs in cricket.  

Not in 31 years have New Zealand beaten Australia in a test on home soil, demonstrating the stranglehold Australia enjoy in transtasman cricket. 

While Australia might look to England or India as their primary rivals, for Kiwis, a series against Australia is the one: a chance to beat big brother. 

New Zealanders are savouring this contest, with both tests, at Wellington’s Basin Reserve then Christchurch’s Hagley Oval, sold out. 

This is the series the Black Caps have long craved: a crack at their arch-rivals on their home decks. 

It’s been eight years since Australia undertook a test tour of Aotearoa, a quirk of the schedule that has only served to elevate this contest ― particularly given New Zealand’s riches in talent at present. 

Daryl Mitchell, a veteran of 123 outings for New Zealand across the three formats, has never played Australia at home. He’s also never beaten Australia in any format. 

That’s right: one of the Black Caps’ mainstays of recent years has never tasted victory over Australia, be it T20, ODI or test. 

Black Caps veteran Daryl Mitchell has never tasted victory over Australia in any format. Photo / PhotosportBlack Caps veteran Daryl Mitchell has never tasted victory over Australia in any format. Photo / Photosport 

Given the opportunity that arises for New Zealand over the next fortnight, Mitchell said his side had to actively downplay the tour’s significance. 

“For us, it’s not making that bigger than what it is,” he said. 

“It’s cool to take on the Aussies ... it’s going to be pretty special in front of a packed Basin and Aussie are a world-class team. 

“It’s obviously a special series for everyone, but at the same time, it’s just another ball coming down at you and trying to find a way to negate it.” 

Australia’s dominance is so strong that only three of the travelling squad know what it’s like to lose a test to the Black Caps. 

In the 31 years since New Zealand’s last home win, there have been 31 tests between the two, with Australia losing just once: at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval in 2011. 

The survivors from that test — Mitchell Starc, 34, Usman Khawaja, 37, and Nathan Lyon, 36 — were in their second, sixth and seventh tests respectively. 

In a low-scoring classic, New Zealand set Australia a second-innings chase of 240 to win. 

While David Warner carried his bat with 123 not out, he ran out of partners as Doug Bracewell took 6-40 to give New Zealand a seven-run win. 

“I’ve still got that in my head,” Lyon said at the Basin Reserve on Monday. 

“All I remember is Davey batting at the end there with me ... we have 30 runs [to get] and he goes, ‘if we chase down this total it’ll be one hell of a party’. 

“Then I got bowled with about 11 runs to get so we’ve missed out on the hell of a party.” 

On their last visit to the Basin, Australia put New Zealand to the sword with an innings and 52-run victory in 2016. 

Lyon took 7-123 across the two innings, recalling howling winds common in the capital. 

“Fond memories,” he said. 

“A few of the big quicks didn’t want to run into it ... so that’s where I get my overs.” 

New Zealand often line up without a dedicated spinner for home tests, with Mitchell Santner missing out in the second test against South Africa. 

Santner may do again given a likely green pitch in Wellington, but Lyon was adamant of the need for spin. 

“If it seams, it spins ... spin to win in my eyes,” he said. 

“I’m excited to see what pitches are produced. But I dare say there’ll be some spin in there.” 

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