Australia v New Zealand, the Trans-Tasman Rivalry, is the cricket rivalry of the southern hemisphere.
And given that for some reason, the recent series win over England didn’t count for the World Test Championship, this is a chance for New Zealand to try to improve on their third-place in the standings, which comes courtesy of a win and a defeat so far. Australia sit in second, a long way off India, who are seven from seven in terms of wins so far.
Australia are of course fresh from an extremely comfortable 2-0 win over Pakistan. Two of their three star batsmen scored mountains of runs. And all their bowlers took wickets: Mitchell Starc topping with 14.
New Zealand arrive in good shape after managing their lead well in the Second Test against England. They showed good resilience and grit and will be confident after that Series win.
Team News: Australia
Australia are almost certain to play the same team that beat Pakistan 2-0. They now have three world-class batsmen to count on. David Warner, who scored 335 not out on the Second Test, Marnus Labuschagne who scored 185 in the First Test and 162 in the Second and… Steve Smith. The latter uncharacteristically missed out in the recent Series and will be desperate to make amends here.
With the ball Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are three of the world’s best in terms of pace while Nathan Lyon will be his usual nagging self as the team’s main spinner.
Team News: New Zealand
New Zealand have their own trio of classy batsmen. Captain Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and opener Tom Latham have all been in the tuns of late and those three will need to be at their best against this potent Australian attack.
They do however have a couple of injury concerns. Pace bowler Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme are both doubts to play in the First Test and the Kiwis will miss them badly. The experienced Tim Southee and Matt Henry will have to do their best to make up for Boult’s absence if he isn’t declared fit enough to feature.
Venue for Australia v New Zealand 1st Test: Perth
Perth is famous for being arguably the fastest wicket in the world. That will play into the hands of Cummins, Hazlewood and in particular, Starc, the quickest of the three. There’s an extra reason why Starc may enjoy himself. It’s a day-night Test match and his record with the pink ball is outstanding.
What’s interesting is that there’s no obvious decision to make for the captain who wins the toss. Normally you always want to bat first in Test cricket but the start of the match might be when the wicket is at its fastest and therefore, at its most dangerous for batsmen.
Match odds for Australia v New Zealand
Australia are 1.4 with the draw a huge 8.5 with Bet365. With no rain forecast and a pitch that tends to deteriorate as the game progresses, it’s highly unlikely we’ll end with a stalemate here. New Zealand are 5.0 but their historical record in Tests played in Australia suggests they’ve got their work cut out here.
Australia First Innings Top Batsman Odds
Steve Smith and David Warner are 3.2 and 3.6 respectively with Betway to be first innings top batsman for the hosts. But there’s no particularly good reason- experience aside- why Marnus Labuschagne should be a much bigger price at 4.33. Ever since he broke into the side during the Ashes he’s matched his more famous team-mates run for run. He has the ideal technique and patience to play long innings and hates giving his wicket away. It makes sense to side with him given the difference in odds.
Australia First Innings Top Bowler Odds
Starc is the favourite at 3.0 with Bet365 but as hinted already, he holds all the trumps. He’s the fastest of the three pacemen in the team and this quick wicket will therefore suit him. And coincidence or otherwise, he’s found it easier to take wickets with the pink ball used in day-night Tests than his team-mates. Yes, he’s he favourite but that’s for a very good reason and is very much the man to beat here.
Pat Cummins, who has more variety and is arguably most accurate, will be a big threat at 3.4. But Starc is the smart choice.
Recommended Bets for Australia v New Zealand
Back Marnus Labuschagne to be Australia first innings top batsman @ 4.33 Betway
Back Mitchell Starc to be Australia first innings top bowler @ 3.0 with Bet365