Australia unlikely to pick full pace quartet against New Zealand - Steve Smith

Elias Hubbard
June 2, 2017

The left-arm paceman had been sidelined for three months but has been bowling in the nets for the last 20 days as he gets himself ready for Australia's Champions Trophy campaign, which starts against New Zealand on Friday.

Asked if winning the Champions Trophy would bolster the players' cause, Smith said: "I think, if we win, nearly certainly it would be really good for the playing group".

"We are focusing on this tournament". "These are the big tournaments and the ones you really want to win".

With a couple of high quality pace bowling all-rounders in Marcus Stoinis and John Hastings in their ranks, the Australia bowling line=up could prove hard to handle in the swing friendly English conditions.

Pacemen Tim Southee and Trent Boult are proven performers in England, but Southee said: "We know the conditions, but you can't rely on that".

Australia: Steven Smith (c), David Warner, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa.

Although Australia have won nine out of their last 10 encounters against New Zealand, they can not afford to take their rivals lightly. "So when you get out in the middle, things seem a little bit easier, and hopefully it shows when we bat".

The Australian skipper added that Stoinis has been bowling well and has not been exhibiting any signs of being troubled by the shoulder injury he suffered in India.

The only selection dilemma in an otherwise settled batting line up is who amongst Glenn Maxwell and Chris Lynn will get the nod to fulfil the finisher's role. "And for us, our focus is on this tournament, and it needs to be, because we're coming up against some good opposition", he said. Smith however asserted that the 27-year-old has been impressive in training and hoped that he will come good in the Champions Trophy.

"It probably doesn't matter a great deal", Smith said.

Friday s encounter at Birmingham s Edgbaston ground is set to feature several survivors, with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson having cemented his place as one of the world s best batsmen in the intervening two years.

On the other hand, New Zealand's team composition looked struggling against India in the first warm-up game but they were back massively against Sri Lanka in the second practice game where Matin Guptill throttled the opponents with his swashbuckling century. "He's coming along nicely".

Smith asserted that his teammates will have to adjust fast to the demands of the 50-over version of the game as well as to the conditions in England as they try to win the Champions Trophy for a record third time.

Steve Smith-led Australia, who are two-time ICC Champions Trophy winners, will take on the Black Caps, in what is expected to be another high-voltage tie.

"The wickets over here are pretty good, and the bowlers are going to have to be at the very top of their game as a result".

Pat Cummins was the pick of the quicks in the warm-up match against Sri Lanka at The Oval, returning 1-47 on a flat deck that offered little for the bowlers.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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