The Australian camp has raised suspicions around the work of the Black Caps bowlers ahead of the Boxing Day test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Batting coach Graeme Hick did not have a problem with New Zealand using bouncers against his batsmen, but did question why umpires did not step in and interfere during the Black Caps' legside attack in the opening test in Perth.

During the second innings, Black Caps pace bowler Neil Wagner delivered a legside barrage to Matthew Wade, with wicketkeeper BJ Watling setting up on the legside in anticipation of the tactic.

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According to the ICC men's test playing conditions, umpires can call wides if they consider someone "to be bowling down the leg side as a negative tactic".

"I wondered if at any stage the umpires felt it was negative bowling," Hick told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"A while ago if you bowled a certain number of deliveries consecutively the umpires would step in, especially if it was used to control the game.

"I wonder if that comes into play at all. There were quite a few consecutive deliveries a foot down leg side."

Hick believes the method is a defensive play by the Black Caps and expects them to continue with it next week.

"The situation of the game, if you try to set up the game and move the game forward, you're tempted to try and attack it, which plays into their hands," Hick said.

Australia batting coach Graeme Hick has questioned New Zealand's bowling tactics. Photo / Getty
Australia batting coach Graeme Hick has questioned New Zealand's bowling tactics. Photo / Getty

However, Australian head coach Justin Langer had no problems with the duel between Wade and Wagner, which saw Wagner hit a willing Wade on multiple occasions.

"I thought it was absolutely brilliant," Langer told


"Two street fighters going at it.

"Matthew Wade ... got into that mode of 'I'm giving you nothing'. And Wagner's saying 'I'm giving you plenty'. I thought it was riveting."

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Langer also believed his side were more than capable of handling the short-ball attack.

"We were certainly expecting it, particularly from Neil Wagner," Langer said.

"You've got to put it in perspective. In the first innings they did the similar thing and we scored over 400 runs and we ended up winning the game by (296) runs.

"We were expecting that and we'll have strategies in place to make sure we're ready for it in the next test as well."


The match will be just the third time New Zealand play in the historic test at the MCG, and first since 1987.