CANBERRA (Reuters) – New Zealand are under no illusions how tough it will be to win their first test series in Australia in 30 years despite the hosts undergoing a transition phase, coach Mike Hesson said.
New Zealand’s only victory over their trans-Tasman rivals in 11 series in Australia came in 1985, when Richard Hadlee’s swing and seam bowling, and Martin Crowe’s batting helped the tourists to a 2-1 win over Allan Border’s side.
Such has been Australia’s dominance over New Zealand in test cricket that the last three series there have been limited to two matches.
However, Brendon McCullum’s side won the last test between the two, in Hobart in December 2011, by seven runs to level the series after they were thumped by nine wickets in the first game at Brisbane.
“1985 was a long time ago. A lot of us still remember that quite fondly,” Hesson told reporters in Canberra ahead of their first match on Friday, a day-night one-dayer against the Prime Minister’s XI to be played with a pink ball.
“There have been some good New Zealand sides come over here in the past and I think it has shown how formidable Australia are in their own backyard.
“We have had the odd test win … but to win a series over here, you need to play very well and we won’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Hesson is leading a relatively settled side into the series, while Australia are in the process of rebuilding after captain Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson retired after the Ashes loss to England.
New Zealand’s opening bowling pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult are one of the premier new ball attacks in world cricket and could prove a handful in potentially humid conditions in the first test, which starts on Nov. 5 in Brisbane.
The batting will again be anchored by the middle order of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and McCullum, while wicketkeeper BJ Watling provides stubborn resistance with the tail.
Australia will be using the Prime Minister’s XI game and two Cricket Australia XI matches against the tourists as a chance to give batsmen Usman Khawaja, Cameron Bancroft and Joe Burns the opportunity to push for test side selection.
“There is an element of unknown I guess with their possible batting options,” said Hesson.
“We know a bit about Khawaja but he hasn’t played for a while. Obviously don’t know a lot about Bancroft.
“Burns is someone we have seen a little bit in one day cricket but not in red ball cricket.
“Sometimes when you play guys who have been around for a while, you have a bit more info to go on.
“Whether that makes it easy or harder, time will tell.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)