Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Aussies may whistle up dolphin trainer if they get in flap in NZ

Pakistan's Yasir Shah, front, is congratulated by captain Misbah-ul-Haq after capturing the wicket of Australia's Matthew Renshaw. Photo / Andy Brownbill
Pakistan's Yasir Shah, front, is congratulated by captain Misbah-ul-Haq after capturing the wicket of Australia's Matthew Renshaw. Photo / Andy Brownbill

Much of the swagger has returned to Australian cricket after several months feasting on the uncertain New Zealand and Pakistani lineups, writes Wynne Gray.

The baggy greens were the saggy greens midway through November as victims of a South African domestic one-day onslaught then twin test losses in Australia.

An inevitable selection overhaul halted the slide.

Several new names have faded but Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb have bulked up the batting and reinstated wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has pushed up the intent.

Changes to the results chart have been similarly productive from a low baseline of a November loss to South Africa when Australia were humiliated by an innings and 80 runs inside four wretched days in Hobart.

Since that submission, the revival has been distinct and sustained across a dozen games.

South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan have been nobbled in 11 test and one-day contests with the solitary blemish in a limited overs match against Pakistan.

That feast of success has reinstated levels of unctuous television commentary and carried over to a few less endearing members of the team.

Australia and crowds in New Zealand will miss opening batsman David Warner whose behaviour does not reach the superb work he shows at the crease and in his fielding.

Glenn Maxwell and Wade are others who carry enough spite with their spit to leave them as natural targets for vitriol in the next week of combat at Eden Park, Napier and Hamilton.

One of the milder men appears to be Adam Zampa, a leg-spinner with strong control whose skills will provoke a great deal of discussion from both teams. Australia will assess the merits of picking him on smaller grounds against batsmen who are not too familiar with his style.

Zampa does not give the ball a rip but is extremely accurate with enough variety to unsettle any New Zealand block-bash mentality.

Zampa made his one-day debut and international headlines in Wellington a year ago after teammate Usman Khawaja grabbed his backside during the national anthems.

The young leggie has not featured much since with his most recent work in the latest one-dayers against Pakistan where he collected three for 55 and 1 for 61 from 19 overs.

Zampa has been chosen for this trip as the specialist spinner, with backup from Travis Head and Maxwell, yet has been omitted from the 16-strong squad which is then leaving for a tour of India.

That group will use the spin options of the experienced Nathan Lyon, Maxwell, left-armers Steve O'Keefe, Ashton Agar and rookie leggie Mitchell Swepson.

Australia will back the fire of their varied pace attack to do the job in New Zealand but if they lose at Eden Park, they may have to pick one-time dolphin trainer Zampa to pull out a new routine at the Cake Tin.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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