Sport

New Zealand wickets the great unknown for Australian Test squad

Australia's lack of experience in New Zealand conditions is shaping as a major stumbling block in their bid to return to the top of world cricket.

The prospect of lush pitches  should not prove as daunting as the dust bowls of India but will still take some getting used to for an Australian team that has grown accustomed to flat tracks this summer.

India's quick batting collapse

India looked set to beat Australia at Manuka Oval before going down 9-46 in quick succession.

While the two countries are neighbours and have close ties,  that is not reflected in the amount of cricket they have played against each other.

This summer's Tests were the first between the two nations since 2011 while the upcoming contest will be the first time a baggy green has been worn in New Zealand since 2010 - a series remembered for Michael Clarke's break-up with Lara Bingle.

Opportunities: Peter Nevill during his match-winning knock in the Adelaide Test.
Opportunities: Peter Nevill during his match-winning knock in the Adelaide Test. Photo: Getty Images

 No Australians remain from that series. In fact, Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh are the only members of the 14-man Test squad to have played international cricket in NZ, and even their experience is minimal: three limited overs matches for Smith and Warner, and a 50-over game for Marsh.

All three were part of Australia's last match on Kiwi soil - the dramatic World Cup group match where they were skittled for 151 at Eden Park but almost won thanks to the golden left arm of Mitchell Starc.

Test wicketkeeper Peter Nevill's experience of NZ wickets is zero, nor has he seen much on TV.

"Not a lot, bits and pieces over the past few years but not enough to make any real judgments on the conditions," Nevill said on Thursday.

"You need to experience them first hand before you can have an idea what it takes to be successful.

"I'm trying not to make a lot of assumptions, I'll have a look when I'm over there and assess it.

"The expectation is there might be a bit more swing and seam movement than we've seen in the Australian summer."

Nevill will see for himself next week when he flies out with the NSW team for a Sheffield Shield game against Western Australia in Lincoln, unless the Kiwis decide to deliver some payback for the Blacktown debacle by preparing a pitch completely different to what will be unveiled at Basin Reserve in Wellington. With no official tour game planned, the match will be the closest thing to a Test warm-up.

"That's one of the primary reasons we're having a shield match there," Nevill said. "It's a great opportunity for the guys from NSW and WA not involved in the one-dayers to get over there and experience the conditions and get prepared for the first Test."

Nevill slips back into red-ball mode this weekend with a Sydney grade game for Easts followed by a Futures League match next week before linking with his state teammates.

The Test gloveman has been starved of opportunities with the bat, having had to wait until the final day of the final Test against the West Indies for his first bat of the series. He has since had three hits in the Big Bash League for the Melbourne Renegades.

But he had drawn confidence from the day-night Test where he defied the bowler-friendly conditions to score a match-winning half-century.

"There's nothing more satisfying when you're batting to make a contribution that keeps your team in the game or helps your team win," Nevill said.