Brendon McCullum: 'It's a certain bowl-first pitch'

Steve Smith is desperate to dispel another long-running perception - that Australia's batsmen are completely inept against the moving ball.

Smith looked in good nick during a marathon session in the nets in Wellington yesterday, however the Australian captain's most important practice may well have been perfecting his heads and tails calling ahead of the biggest coin toss of his career.

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum declared the Wellington green monster - the grassiest pitch Smith has ever seen - a certain "bowl-first" pitch, meaning Australia's bid for the No.1 Test ranking in this two-match series may hinge heavily on whether or not they win the toss.

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However, McCullum wasn't quite so keen to discuss whether he acted hypocritically earlier this week when he refused to stop an incorrect umpiring process from claiming the controversial wicket of Mitchell Marsh that ultimately clinched New Zealand the Chappell-Hadlee one-day series.

McCullum was within his rights to let umpire Ian Gould make his decision, but so might Smith last year when he was blasted by the Kiwi skipper for not rescinding a controversial appeal in a match against England at Lord's.

Smith has given his players permission to go hard - with the gloves well and truly off ahead of this trans-Tasman showdown.

"Things clearly got a bit heated after Mitch's dismissal but to be honest I think we're at our best when we play a good, hard, aggressive brand of cricket," Smith told Fox Sports.

"I think there's a line that we don't want to cross and we know where that is. But if we continue to play that brand of cricket hopefully we can have a lot more success.
"I don't mind us getting into a tussle here and there."

McCullum attempted to play down the Marsh incident, refusing to buy into whether the blow-up was a spirit of cricket issue and promising a beer has already been organised between the two teams after the series.

"I spoke to Smithy just after the game and that was all fine. It was one of those things and both teams will be pretty happy to move on," said McCullum.

"Both teams get on really well, and at the same time you're trying to win games for your country so there's going to be moments that are more heated.

"We've already discussed at the end of the match and the series that both teams will sit down and enjoy a beer as we did in Australia."

An incredible 27 wickets have fallen on day one of the past two Wellington Tests and McCullum admits New Zealand will have a look at the playbook that won England last year's Ashes series in such emphatic style.

Mitchell Marsh was given an almighty send off by the Kiwis in the final ODI.Source:AFP
"The way they played in those seamer friendly conditions is certainly something we can look at," said McCullum.

"We've got a very good bowling line-up who will swing the ball and if the conditions do favour us I'm confident we'll ask some tough questions.

"Our batting line-up is pretty similar to England; we've got some stroke-makers and some craft players. If you bat first it's a matter of getting through those tough times and hanging in the game because it can change so late."

As far as Smith is concerned, there can be no excuses for Australia.

"We haven't been good enough with the bat on wickets that have been doing a bit in the last year or so," he said.

"So we've got a bit to prove there. It looks like the wicket might do a little bit here. We've got a bit to prove and we've got to adapt accordingly and be a lot better than we have in recent times."

-- news.com.au

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