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Cricket: 6 Aussie tour appetisers

New Zealand will play their first Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series against Australia in six seasons next week. Andrew Alderson picks six things for fans to ponder as anticipation builds.
Brendon McCullum is hoping for a last hurrah. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Brendon McCullum is hoping for a last hurrah. Photo / Jason Oxenham

1 Can a team reach 400 at Eden Park?

This query pops up every time the cricket roadshow visits, thanks to the short boundaries.

Curiously, in 69 completed ODIs, only six 300+ totals have been scored.

The highest (340-5 by New Zealand chasing Australia's 336-4 in 2007) came before the ground dimensions and pitch angle changed.

The next best, 314, came in the New Zealand-India tie of 2014.

Colin Munro summed up the "eyes bigger than bats" syndrome after New Zealand's recent T20 win over Sri Lanka.

"Guys see those straight boundaries for the first time and look to go there rather than playing decent cricket shots. They try to overclub."

2 What lights Brendon McCullum's batting fuse?

How about a replica of either World Cup innings at Eden Park? Either 50 off 24 against Australia or 59 off 26 against South Africa.

As much as Grant Elliott's six deserved centre stage in the semifinal, McCullum's Catherine wheel provided the innings impetus. It reduced the required run rate and demoralised a world-class attack.

Let's see him chewing, advancing and hammering in a last hurrah.

3 BJ Watling or Luke Ronchi in the wicketkeeping gloves?

Ronchi looks scheduled to return from rest for Australia but giving Watling one game against Pakistan seems token in terms of building depth.

Is he worth persevering with in the first Eden Park Chappell-Hadlee ODI as well?

A school of thought suggests the maturity and grit Watling has gained since his last stint in coloured clothing three years ago could pay off.

4 Wahab Riaz delivers a rip-snorting spell

Those who watched him deliver 150km/h short-of-a-length venom to Shane Watson at the World Cup quarter-final in Adelaide will demand this.

Commentator and former Australian player Damien Fleming described one delivery as "a perfume ball, get a smell of that one". Watson won the battle, finishing 64 not out, but it was compelling.

Kane Williamson or Brendon McCullum seem prime candidates. Everyone wins when the best batsmen and bowlers are pitted against each other, plus it would be good preparation before Australia.

5 Let's see Adam Milne roar

Watching Milne's full momentum through the popping crease is a fast-bowling treat.

The wicketkeeper is generally sighted on the dip of the horizon (or at least the wicket block) and only the best batsmen remain on the balls of their feet - the natural human reaction is to retreat.

The remaining summer ODIs would benefit from a fit Milne in his 150km/h pomp.

6 Who is Adam Zampa?

The 23-year-old leg spinner is yet to debut at international level. He has been selected in the ODI squad in place of Nathan Lyon.

Zampa's Big Bash League form for the Melbourne Stars got him the nod, taking 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.10 in 10 matches. He struck every 19 balls, including bowling Mike Hussey in his final top-level innings.

He is also willing to go to Pinocchio lengths to get wickets. In the BBL he literally ran out backing up Melbourne Renegades batsman Peter Nevill by a nose - a deflection from his proboscis.

- NZ Herald

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