Ki­wis a tough test for T20 kids

Finch’s Eden Park warn­ing

The Observer - - SPORT | DIGEST -

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.

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