Trust a bowler to nail it for the batsmen ahead of today's opening Chappell-Hadlee cricket series game at Eden Park in Auckland.

Amid all the talk of the Eden Park postage stamp dimensions, the recent statistics are a sharp reminder that all that glisters isn't necessarily gold for batsmen eyeing the short boundaries.

The last two times Australia played in Auckland, they mustered 151 and 148. Before then, New Zealand were rolled for 156 by the West Indies, 185 by England and 206 by South Africa in the last five summers. The exception was the 314 vs 314 tie against India in 2014, so it's something of a lucky dip on the drop-in pitch.

So step up Mitchell Starc to talk some sense about batting at a ground he's been at once before.


"You've always got more time than you think, especially in 50-over cricket," the tall left armer said yesterday. "You don't need to go and get 300 in the first 40 overs. You can probably make it up at the back end, and here, where it'll probably swing and nip a bit, give yourself a chance to get in and see some balls."

Eminently sensible advice, which too often you see blithely ignored by batsmen who should know better.

New Zealand aren't naming their side until today, but captain Kane Williamson did confirm opener Tom Latham will take the wicketkeeping gloves in preference to newcomer Tom Blundell.

"That allows us to strengthen our higher middle order with Ross [Taylor] at four and Neil Broom at five," he said.

You might also surmise there's a view that in a highly-charged atmosphere, better start the series with the player who's been around a while. Blundell is a good wicketkeeper but it raises one thought, whether he will get a chance in the series.

This New Zealand management don't have a strong record of giving games away just to be nice. Ask Todd Astle in Australia last month.

Williamson yesterday thought the pitch looks good for batting.

New Zealand also have the seam bowlers to cash in if there's some of Starc's nip in the pitch. Trent Boult took eight for 65 in his last two games at Eden Park. Then again, Starc and Josh Hazlewood might fancy that, too, if both play.

The big challenge for New Zealand is to match up against the world's No1 ODI side. They didn't last month and paid dearly for it.

"I would say we didn't play our best cricket, and they played very well," Williamson said. "To be fair, they have for a while, which is why they're No1. We showed glimpses with the bat and ball but being able to do that day in, day out and put on the board complete performances are the key."

Williamson's ODI average of 46.81 drops by 10 runs against Australia. He'll be acutely aware he needs to deliver, while opener Martin Guptill shapes as a decisive figure, on the back of his splendid century in Sydney last month and a ton for Auckland on his return from a hamstring injury last week.

Having Taylor back for his first ODI since October is reassuring, while the late-career revival of Broom could take another interesting turn.

Don't call this a chance to avenge last month.

Words like that don't fit in the New Zealand dressing room lexicon, Williamson said.

He believes it's important his players "go out and play with freedom, with a smile on their face. When you do, they perform a lot better."

Still, there are times when grim and win will do just nicely, too.

First ODI: Eden Park, 11am today

New Zealand

(from): Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

Australia (from): Matt Wade (c), Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Sam Heazlitt, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, James Faulkner, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Billy Stanlake.