Australia didn't bother picking a full-time wicketkeeper for their final Twenty20 clash with India, but a very different value appears to have been placed on the preparation of incumbent long-form gloveman Peter Nevill for the Test series against New Zealand.
Without a tour match to set themselves for five-day red-ball cricket, about half the Test side will go straight from the three-match one-day series against the Black Caps into the first Test on February 12 at the Basin Reserve, Wellington. Other squad members, including Peter Siddle, Chadd Sayers, Jackson Bird and Joe Burns will play Sheffield Shield matches in Australia. But a select trio - Nevill, spinner Nathan Lyon and batsman Adam Voges - will have the distinct advantage of playing a four-day match in local conditions when NSW challenges Western Australia in Christchurch, the first shield match to be played in New Zealand.
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"This will double as a tour match, as a lead up to the Test matches, so those guys who are involved are going to be slightly better prepared than those playing one-day cricket," Blues coach Trent Johnston said.
"Pat Howard and Darren Lehmann have obviously done their homework and worked out what's best for the team. They've played a lot of cricket lately so maybe it's about keeping them as fresh as possible.
"Those three guys will have a bit of an advantage but, I think, when you factor in the likes of [Steve] Smith and [David] Warner - those sorts of guys are quite adaptable these days so I think they'll pick up after a few training sessions, get used to the conditions, the red ball and get back in the Test match game mode."
Blues bowler Trent Copeland, who is back from injury and hoping for his first NSW start in nearly two years, said he believed the Australian cricket brains trust lined up the match as a pseudo tour fixture.
"I would imagine there was a plan for this, given it was scheduled to be played just before the Test series and knowing that both teams are full of guys that are pressing for Test selection," Copeland said.
"Certainly, for Nathan Lyon and Peter Nevill, who have been training here for a couple of days and then playing in this fixture, it's great for them to be acclimatised and getting used to the conditions, how the ball swings, what the wickets are like. No doubt it's beneficial for them, but they're here playing for us, not with an eye on the Test side, that's for sure."