In winter, New Zealand has kept a strong chokehold on Australia's rugby hopes and that control was total across the Super Rugby series.

Noises about improvements across the Ditch were exposed as layers of uncertainty before the ARU installed a different clutch of administrators to try to shake their malaise. As that group went into their navel-gazing, planning and think-tank mode, cricket restored the nation's sporting confidence.

Steve Smith and his men towelled up England in cricket's Ashes but after that conclusive triumph on their home tracks, Australia suffered similar anguish when they were tuned up by a specialist England squad in the one-day series.

The message was clear for the approaching T20 series with New Zealand and England — pick specialist in-form players who were carving out performances and compelling work in the Big Bash League.


That regular involvement gives the Aussies an edge in the vagaries of the shortest game and makes them prime targets for the obscene rewards on offer in the IPL.

The Aussie selectors have rested all their test stars except David Warner who captains a T20 squad of specialists fresh from consistent headline roles in the BBL to start the tri-series battle tomorrow against New Zealand at the SCG.

While the Aussies pulled in fresh talent, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and his panel have picked seven test players and others on that cusp who have been on duty through the limited overs and T20 matches which have populated the summer itinerary this side of the Tasman.

That formula worked for a long unbeaten stretch against a poor Windies side and then Pakistan before the tourists jettisoned some chaotic work and roared to successive victories and a T20 series triumph with victories at Eden Park and Mt Maunganui.

The problem is that a drive-by 20-over game is no time for a decent look and some strategy revision, this is fast-paced let's get it done cricket.


Success in Sydney feels like it is tilting towards hope rather than the belief bracket.

The comfort of home conditions for the last two months changes when New Zealand step on to the SCG where they will be confronted by an aggressive environment and a range of unfamiliar cricket influences which, collectively, will create more pressure.

The Kiwis will have done stacks of research but there are nuances about the SCG they need to absorb before they understand them.

Kane Williamson's field settings will be one area where the Kiwis need to get to grips with the bounce and carry in the wicket, the angles of the ground and where the Australians like to score.

The problem is that a drive-by 20-over game is no time for a decent look and some strategy revision, this is fast-paced let's get it done cricket. That creates more home town pressure for Australia who will carry the heat of favouritism without any history of success.

They have heavyweight hitters such as Aaron Finch, Chris Lynn, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell but if Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme find their range they can clobber any bowling attack.

Explosive batting is the bedrock of T20 where fielding restrictions and pitches give the batsmen greater advantages but the Sydney track suggests some spice for spin and a challenging selection for both teams around the leg-spinning crafts of Ish Sodhi and Adam Zampa.

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