Australia's young fast bowling tyros received a large thumbs up from senior batsman Mike Hussey after a hot morning workout at the nets in Brisbane today.
The veteran lefthander is one of a small group of seasoned players in a youthful Australian squad, which includes three uncapped quicks James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Ben Cutting, who are effectively vying for two spots in the first test starting on Thursday.
And he sees a key role for players like captain Michael Clarke, senior pro Ricky Ponting, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and himself in keeping the new players on message.
"It's a really important role of the senior players to make these young guys feel as welcome and comfortable as possible," Hussey said.
"It is a bit daunting, so we have to make them feel like they deserve to be here and enjoy being part of the Australian team."
Hussey faced some hostile bowling from Queenslander Cutting today and watched Pattinson and Starc closely. He liked what he saw, rating their pace in the 140kph-plus bracket, which is lively by any standards.
"There's plenty of motivation for them to charge in with a baggy green cap up for grabs," Hussey said.
Hussey reckoned the spirit of the younger players also helps give the older hands a spark.
"They bring so much excitement and enthusiasm to the group and in a way that lifts the other guys. They're chomping at the bit to get an opportunity to play for Australia."
Hussey acknowledged Australia knew little of several of the New Zealand players, but recalled Dean Brownlie from playing grade cricket in Perth many years ago.
Brownlie, whose father is from Christchurch, settled in New Zealand just three seasons ago.
And Hussey, preparing for his 65th test, and averaging 51.73, played down any suggestion of an extra spice to the transtasman rivalry compared to others Australia have.
"I don't think it's necessarily heightened against the Kiwis more than anyone else.
"We've got a great rivalry with them, no question of that. We're both pretty proud countries but it's no more spicy than normal, compared with say England or South Africa."
As for the Gabba pitch, which has been tipped to be juicy and lively on the opening day on Thursday, Hussey said it is quite hard underneath.
"The pitch had a good water this morning, so it's a little soft on top.
"But I'm expecting with the hot conditions it'll dry out quickly.
"It might have a little moisture in it the first day, then good pace and bounce.
"Normally it's awesome conditions for cricket up here."
- APNZBy David Leggat Email David