Australia and New Zealand will renew their rivalry this month as they square off in a five-match T20I series. Like matches between these two teams often are, this series will no doubt be a fascinating watch. And it could give us a bit of an idea as to where the two teams stand ahead of this year’s T20I World Cup in India.
The absence of star names like Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc will certainly be felt in the Australia line-up and in the contest as a whole. But it will give the talent youngsters a chance to step up and stake a claim for a regular berth in the playing XI. Aaron Finch described this tour as a ‘fact-finding mission’ for the Aussies. And it will be interesting to see the tactics and players they use over the five games.
A number of talented but relatively untested players have been named in the Australia squad on the back of impressive performances in the recently concluded BBL, including Josh Philippe, Riley Meredith, Tanveer Sangha, Ben McDermott, Daniel Sams and Ashton Turner. Highly rated quicks Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff are also back after overcoming their injury woes. They will certainly make a big push for selection in the World Cup, having starred in the BBL.
There is also no shortage of T20I specialists and experienced campaigners in the Australia team, with Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa set to lead their charge. The quartet will have a key role to play for the tourists if they have any chance of beating this formidable New Zealand team.
There aren’t any big surprises in the New Zealand squad for the series, with Ross Taylor the only big name missing out. Kane Williamson will lead the team for the Kiwis, with Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee set to form a strong pace attack. Summer breakout stars Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert and Devon Conway have also been named in the side. And they could feast on the inexperienced Aussie attack. There is also a place in the squad for young gun Finn Allen, who has been named on stand-by for the injured Martin Guptill.
New Zealand earned impressive series wins over the West Indies and Pakistan to end 2020. While Australia go into the series on the back of defeats to England and India. They will keen on making sure a return to winning ways against their rivals from across the Tasman Sea.
This will be the first meeting between the two sides since the Trans-Tasman Twenty20 Tri-Series three years ago. Australia beat New Zealand in the final of that tri-series, which also included England. Overall, New Zealand and Australia have played each just just nine times in T20I cricket. The men from Down Under have won seven of those matches, with New Zealand enjoying just two wins. But they will see this series as the perfect opportunity to change that.
Players to Watch
Josh Philippe is set to make his Australia debut on the back of another scintillating BBL campaign, which saw him win the Man of the Tournament award. The Sydney Sixers opener is considered to be one of the most exciting young batsmen in Australian cricket. And he will no doubt be looking to translate his BBL form onto the international stage.
After two years of injury struggles, Jhye Richardson will finally be back in Australian colours later this month. The lightning quick pacer looks to be in excellent form, and if he can pick up where he left off before his injury woes, he can become one of the Aussies’ leading fast bowlers for years to come. The likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood haven’t had any serious competition since the 2019 Ashes. But now that Jhye Richardson is back, he can stake a claim for not only the T20I World Cup, but also next summer’s Ashes series.
There is no shortage of talented players in the New Zealand camp. But one player who will be aiming to impress is Glenn Phillips. The 24 year old scored the fast T20I hundred by a New Zealand player against the West Indies in November. And he will be hoping to build on that by impressing against Australia. The last time Glenn Phillips faced Australia, he earned comparisons with Steve Smith. Now with more experience under his belt, he looks set to play a key role for New Zealand.
Towering New Zealand pacer Kyle Jamieson has been one of their best performers over the last 12 months. The 26 year old averages an incredible 13.27 in Test cricket, and he will have a key role to play for the Black Caps in the upcoming series against Australia. While Jamieson has only played 12 international matches so far, he is primed for a long career across all three formats. This will be his first meeting against Australia, and he will be determined to make a big impact.
Australia Touring Squad
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa
New Zealand Squad
Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Martin Guptill (pending fitness test), Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Finn Allen (stand-by for Guptill)
Monday 22 February: 1st IT20 New Zealand v Australia, Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Thursday 25 February: 2nd IT20 New Zealand v Australia, University of Otago Oval, Dunedin
Wednesday 3 March: 3rd IT20 New Zealand v Australia, Sky Stadium, Wellington
Friday 5 March: 4th IT20 New Zealand v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland
Sunday 7 March: 5th IT20 New Zealand v Australia, Bay Oval, Tauranga