Drubbing forgotten as hosts prepare to tackle supposedly weakened foe, writes David Leggat.

In sport and life it's best not to linger on the bad stuff; that may help explain why last month's belting from Australia across the Tasman hasn't been discussed in depth by New Zealand as they prepare for the return Chappell Hadlee series, starting at Eden Park tomorrow.

There's a strong belief among the New Zealand squad that the gulf between the teams is nothing like it was projected as they were dunked 3-0 at Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Senior batsman Ross Taylor wasn't on that trip, getting over his left eye surgery, but he confirmed it hasn't exactly been top of the agenda in conversations among the players.

"No we haven't talked about it much. You play so much cricket you can't let things dwell," Taylor said.


"After the Australia series, the guys got straight back into domestic cricket, and played well against Bangladesh. Australia is going to be a step up but at the same time you've just got to get on with what's in front of you."

And Taylor, returning after three months out of the ODI game, warned it would be foolish to think Australia will be a soft touch with the absence of their three top order batting stars, David Warner, Usman Khawaja and captain Steve Smith for a range of reasons, from the trip.

"They had a big part to play in the last series. Warner's been in stellar form, Smith is very consistent and an inspiring leader.

"They'll be looking for [stand-in skipper Matthew] Wade to step up. The New Zealand public would love to have Smith and Warner here, they love reminding them of a few things.

"But Australia get a chance to check out their depth. Any time you play Australia, regardless of who they put on the field, you know they're going to be tough. We don't like losing to each other. Not having those guys there gives them an opportunity."

New Zealand's batsmen certainly won't be in chortling mode. Australia's bowling attack is formidable, and at full strength, with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and resurgent Pat Cummins all in Auckland.

They're all likely to get a rest at some point in the series.

"It's just the landscape of cricket. Players who play three formats need a break, and if you don't give them a break that's where injuries come in.

"They lose Smith and Warner but us batters are up against their best bowlers. We'll be under pressure and hopefully can respond."

Taylor is tipping an intriguing series, in terms of the possible variations in pitch conditions.

"They're going to be totally different. This one [Eden Park] will have a little bit in it, small boundaries; there'll be pace and bounce in Napier, and the slower nature, where it could turn, at Hamilton.

"In a three-game series you've got to be ready to go straight away. You can't let 10-15 overs go, you've got to be right on the ball. Quite often in a short series whoever wins the first match gets the upper hand and confidence."

Australia are aware Eden Park, with its quirky angles and short boundaries, looks a ground full of runs, but often flatters to deceive. "You assume there's going to be high scores, but it tends to swing here," captain Matthew Wade said.

Taylor has a theory - "It just has a little bit in it. Sometimes I don't think there's a par score. Some days it's 300 plays 300; others it's 200. You've just got to analyse it as quickly as possible."