PREVIEW | New Zealand vs. Australia Test series

A TWO-TEST series between the inaugural and reigning World Test Champions is set to get underway tomorrow, as New Zealand hosts Australia in Wellington. It will be the first Trans-Tasman Test series since 2016, with Australia looking to follow on from its recent T20 whitewash over the Kiwis. We take you through all you need to know before things get underway in Wellington.


Both matches scheduled to start at 9:00am AEDT.

1st Test: February 29 – March 4 @ Basin Reserve, Wellington
2nd Test: March 8-12 @ Hagley Oval, Christchurch


AUSTRALIA: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc

NEW ZEALAND: Tim Southee (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Will O’Rourke, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young


Australia will take a settled squad across the ditch. Michael Neser was added to the 14-man touring party in anticipation of seam-friendly conditions, though may struggle to get a look in with the visitors’ mainline attack poised to take the field together for a seventh-straight Test.

Skipper Pat Cummins leads the line alongside Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, with Neser and Scott Boland the reserve bowlers and Nathan Lyon a standalone spinner. Seaming allrounders Cameron Green and Mitch Marsh will also take their place in the XI at four and six.

Despite a couple of key pieces fighting for form, Australia’s revamped batting order remains unchanged. Steve Smith is set to open alongside Usman Khawaja with Marnus Labuschagne at first drop, Travis Head placed between Green and Marsh, and keeper Alex Carey at seven.

Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith are mainstays for Australia | Image Credit: Getty Images

New Zealand will be buoyed by the return of a bunch of big names, none bigger than Kane Williamson. The former captain is set to earn his 100th cap alongside current skipper Tim Southee in game two, becoming just the fifth and sixth Kiwis to do so.

Daryl Mitchell has recovered from a foot injury in time to reprise his role at number five, behind Williamson and young gun Rachin Ravindra. The latter has been declared fit to play after missing the last two T20s with a knee complaint.

Atop the order, Devon Conway‘s thumb injury sees Will Young take up an opening spot alongside Tom Latham. Henry Nicholls, who was originally overlooked, has come into the squad with keeper Tom Blundell pegged to bat at six ahead of Glenn Phillips.

The Kiwi’s bowling stocks have been shaken up by the shock retirement of Neil Wagner and unavailability of Kyle Jamieson (back). Though, Matt Henry has overcome a hip injury and will play alongside Southee and Will O’Rourke at the least.

New Zealand is yet to formally make a call on whether spinning allrounder Mitchell Santner gets the nod over a fourth seamer in Scott Kuggeleijn, with the conditions making such an attack possible. Trent Boult was not considered for a place in the squad due to a lack of recent red ball exposure.

LIKELY AUSTRALIA XI: Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

LIKELY NEW ZEALAND XI: Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell (wk), Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Tim Southee (c), Will O’Rourke

Rachin Ravindra is a player to watch | Image Credit: Getty Images


AUSTRALIA: Marnus Labuschagne

While by his own summation the Australian summer of cricket yielded a relative dearth of runs for Labuschagne, he will have fond memories of playing New Zealand in the Test arena. His highest career average is against the Kiwis, boasting 549 runs at 91.5 with two centuries in six innings. Could this series mark an emphatic return to form for Australia’s number three?

NEW ZEALAND: Rachin Ravindra

Among the most exciting talents in cricket’s next generation of batters is Ravindra. The 24-year-old already has a Test double-hundred to his name after five just outings, averaging 41.55 with strong recent form against South Africa. He can also roll the arm over with nine red ball wickets thus far, but will be most threatening in the middle order behind Williamson. 


New Zealand currently tops the World Test Championship table after trouncing a severely undermanned South Africa 2-0 at home. The Kiwis would be undefeated if not for a loss to Bangladesh in late-2023, which sees their record in the current season sit at 3-1.

Australia takes up third spot in the standings having won six of its last 10 Tests. The home summer yielded a 3-0 series sweep over Pakistan and 10-wicket win over the West Indies, though Australia most recently went down in spectacular fashion to the Windies at The Gabba.


Australia well and truly has the wood over its closest geographical rival. New Zealand has not beaten Australia in a Test since 2011 in Hobart, and has not beaten its big brother at home since 1993. This century, the Kiwis have lost nine of 10 Tests on their own soil against Australia with one draw the lone reprieve.


Australia will be keen to serve a reminder of its class at Test level against a side which often punches above its weight. History tells a heck of a story between these sides and while the Kiwis cannot be counted out, they may again fall short here. Australia 2-0.

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