Australia v New Zealand First ODI
Sunday December 4, 2:20pm AEDT
Returning to the ODI format, Australia will be looking to regain the Chappell-Hadlee trophy, starting with a victory over fierce rivals New Zealand in the first of a three-match series on Sunday at the SCG.
Australia’s most recent ODI assignment ended in a humiliating 5-0 series loss away to South Africa as the Proteas took full advantage of the Aussies playing a second-string bowling attack. The selectors have responded by restoring a full-strength side with rookies Chris Tremain, Joe Mennie and Daniel Worrall omitted in favour of first-choice options Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Faulkner.
The consistent John Hastings has also been left out, with the promising Pat Cummins elevated back to international colours. Enigmatic all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has also scored a recall, however he may have a tough time unseating Travis Head from the middle-order after the young South Australian showed some promising signs in South Africa.
The sole shock selection was that of Western Australian Hilton Cartwright who earned a surprise call-up despite an underwhelming Matador Cup campaign. Otherwise the squad has a familiar look to it with the seasoned quicks joined by regulars such as Steve Smith, David Warner, George Bailey, Matthew Wade and Adam Zampa.
Opener Aaron Finch will want to get amongst the runs promptly after averaging just 21.60 in the South African series, while regular rival Usman Khawaja enjoyed a fruitful test series against the Proteas on home soil. There will be extra pressure on the Australians after they followed up their ODI humiliation with defeat in that recent test series at home, however they remain the number one ranked one-day side in the world and should fancy their chances at home against the Black Caps.
Since claiming the Chappell-Hadlee trophy at home back in February, New Zealand have played just the one ODI series where they were edged 3-2 away to India in what was an admirable performance. However the Black Caps have been forced into a number of changes from that squad with veteran batsman Ross Taylor and all-rounder Corey Anderson joined in the injury ward by fast-bowlers Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenagahan.
That has resulted in a call-up for uncapped seamer Lockie Ferguson, while all-rounder Colin Munro returns after overcoming a hip complaint and the powerful Colin de Grandhomme has been elevated to the ODI squad after starring in the test arena. There were also some unforced changes with leg-spinner Todd Astle preferred to incumbent Ish Sodhi, while wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi has been left out which will allow BJ Watling to take the gloves and promising left-hander Henry Nicholls to return to the middle-order.
Opener Martin Guptill will be searching for a return to form after a lean time in the sub-continent was compounded by his dropping from the test team. With Guptill out of touch, captain Kane Williamson shapes as a key pillar in the batting unit, having top-scored for New Zealand in four of his past nine ODIs. The bowling attack will be led by the familiar pair of Tim Southee and Trent Boult who will both need to contribute significantly if the Kiwis are to reclaim the Chappell-Hadlee trophy.
Sydney Cricket Ground
The SCG has been one of the higher-scoring ODI grounds in the country of late with four of the past six first innings totals exceeding 325, including South Africa’s monstrous 5/408 against the West Indies during the 2015 World Cup. Despite that, the side batting second has won seven of the past ten completed ODIs at the ground with India most recently overhauling Australia’s 7/330 here with six wickets in hand.
- Australia has won just one of their past eight matches across all formats, losing their last five ODIs.
- However Australia has won an incredible 18 of their last 19 completed ODIs at home.
- New Zealand have won three of their past four ODI series’.
- However away from home New Zealand have won only one of their past five ODI series’.
- Kane Williamson has top-scored in four of his past nine ODIs.
Australia are considered firm, if not overwhelming favourites, to take a series lead in Sydney with the Black Caps not winning much interest from the punters.
Australian cricket in general has been a bit shaky of late with test series losses to Sri Lanka and South Africa either side of a 5-0 ODI walloping at the hand of the Proteas. However their record at home in this format is nothing short of phenomenal and with their first-choice bowling attack back on deck against a somewhat undermanned New Zealand outfit they are deserved favourites, although I’m not convinced the market is out of line with expectations.
The Kiwis are indeed missing some key players and while they are also very strong in this format they are far less formidable when they travel outside the Land of the Long White Cloud. The good news is that they have retained the two leaders of their bowling attack on what is a high-scoring ground, so while they are down on troops I’m not in a hurry to oppose them just yet.
However there is a way to exploit the Kiwis’ absentees in the form of the top batsman market. Over 50% of New Zealand’s runs in ODIs this year have come from five batsmen – they include the injured Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson, the retired Brendon McCullum and the horribly out-of-sorts Martin Guptill. The odd man out is the skipper Kane Williamson, who as mentioned earlier has top-scored in four of his past nine ODIs.
Williamson also boasts a superior record away in ODIs – averaging 47.33 as opposed to 43.66 at home – which is pertinent when you consider the difference in the Kiwis’ vulnerability on foreign soil. A class act who has averaged over 50 since taking over the captaincy, I’ll have no hesitation in backing Williamson to top-score again here.
BACK – Kane Williamson Top New Zealand Batsman at 3.25 or bigger for 1 unit