Kiwis a tough test for T20 kids
Finch’s Eden Park warning
CRICKET: Australia are building a blueprint for Twenty20 success, but a showdown with New Zealand at one of cricket’s most daunting venues looms as a major test for the new-look side.
Having already locked up a spot in next week’s tri-series final, the Aussies will be out to maintain their hot form tonight when they face the Black Caps at Auckland’s Eden Park.
A near-sellout crowd is expected at the 50,000capacity venue, which has a reputation for providing visiting teams with a hostile reception.
Vice-captain Aaron Finch said it would be a huge challenge for a side lacking in international experience.
“To come in here and play at Eden Park is one of the more daunting tasks as an international side,” Finch said.
“The crowd’s very vocal. They’re very intimidating at times if New Zealand get on top.
“To be able to expose guys to that, I think, is a huge factor and something that (can give you) a real read on how they cope with pressure.”
Mental toughness is one of several factors national selectors will consider while building their side for the World T20 in two years.
Australia’s recent turnaround in T20s has been driven largely by Big Bash standouts such as D’Arcy Short and Andrew Tye whose selection was aided by a packed summer schedule.
While David Warner is the only Australian to have played every format this summer, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and
Pat Cummins are virtual certainties to be picked in an ideal T20 side.
That is complicated by the fact none of them has played in the BBL recently.
“That is hard because you have guys who are playing Test cricket, who are some of the best T20 players in the world, (but) don’t get an opportunity to play Big Bash,” Finch said.
“So again, it is about assessing everyone’s performances in tournaments they play around the world when they do get an opportunity to play for Australia.
“For example, Mitchell Starc. He hasn’t had a chance to play Big Bash for a long time consistently, just the odd game here or there. I think he would be a walk-up start for any T20 side in the world.
“So there has to be a bit of mixing and matching with that and also a little bit of common sense when you are looking at guys who haven’t played much T20 in recent times.”
A win for NZ tonight would extinguish England’s hopes and set up a trans-Tasman decider next Wednesday night at the same venue.