Mark Craig has a ready-made benchmark when New Zealand arrive in Australia for their three-test series in November.

The offspinner will be one of several players on their first test trip to Australia and will come up against their quality offie Nathan Lyon.

Lyon's numbers at Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide should pique New Zealand's interest and give Craig some useful insights.

Lyon, who has taken 162 wickets in 46 tests at 34.09, has taken 20 wickets in four tests at the Gabba - including seven on debut against New Zealand in 2011 - seven in two matches at Perth's Waca ground, and an outstanding 24 in four tests at his home ground, Adelaide Oval.


It certainly does not automatically follow that Craig - at 28 a year older than Lyon - is going to find similar success, but it does show there are possibilities for the offspinner at those venues.

"I love watching him bowl, and the way he goes about his craft," Craig said. "He's an outstanding offie."

Craig is about to get into serious reconnaissance on what he's likely to find in Australia. But he's confident there will be one element to his liking.

"One of my strengths is the bounce I can get and they're going to be nice bouncy conditions. Growing up as a Kiwi you always wanted to take on those guys across the Ditch so I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in and having a crack at them over there."

He's also hoping to take advantage of any signs of pitch wear and tear under the Australian sun in the latter stages of the tests.

"With a deteriorating wicket it can be a very good place to bowl. Footmarks and then spin can become a huge factor. The ball can go up and down and you've got natural variation off the wicket."

Craig is in Auckland today with most of the New Zealand squad to mark the start of New Zealand's Cricket Roadshow travelling the country to promote the start of the season.

But Australia will occupy the players' minds increasingly as the tour draws near, with the first test starting at the Gabba on November 5.


Australian coach Darren Lehmann has admitted his squad are vulnerable. A raft of retirements, notably among the batsmen, means New Zealand seem sure to face players feeling their way in the test game. But Craig said New Zealand won't start getting ahead of themselves on that score.

"I don't think as a group any of us have fallen into that trap at all.

"Any Australian team in their own conditions is going to be a real handful to play against."

Craig's opportunity came about initially through defections. Dan Vettori was unavailable to tour the West Indies in the middle of last year, and Jeetan Patel turned down the chance to replace him.

Craig arrived "pretty raw" but took eight wickets on debut in Jamaica to push New Zealand to just their second test win in the Caribbean. He also followed Stephen Fleming and Mathew Sinclair as just the third New Zealander to win the man of the match award on debut.

He bagged 10 wickets against Pakistan in Sharjah last year to help set up a series-levelling win and with a batting average of a highly impressive 42.1 coming in at No8, and with flypaper hands at slip, Craig is well ensconced as first choice spinner.

Now a fresh challenge awaits.- The roadshow is designed to promote registrations for the coming season and launch initiatives to grab the interest of school-age children, notably with the New Zealand Post-sponsored Superstar Cricket. Children will get the chance to test their skills against members of both senior New Zealand teams.

• The roadshow will be in New Plymouth next Tuesday, Wellington on Wednesday, Nelson on Friday, with stops also planned for Christchurch, Dunedin and Hamilton in the following week.

Mark Craig




38 at 40.02


421 runs at 42.1, 3 fifties