Australia’s ‘fearsome foursome’ ready for New Zealand

On Friday, however, they meet on neutral territory, launching their Champions Trophy campaigns at Edgbaston. Australia is, without doubt, the favourite, but arrives in the middle of a protracted pay dispute with the board.

While West Indies had the original ‘fearsome foursome’ in the 1970s, Australia hope they have a potent quartet of their own, with coach Darren Lehmann saying: “It would be great to see them go at it and see how they go.”   -  REUTERS

 

Australia and New Zealand have played each other for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy twice in the last six months. Australia won 3-0 at home in December and two months later travelled across the Tasman Sea to lose 2-0. There is little the teams do not know about each other and little doubt, it seems, that the home team will triumph.

On Friday, however, they meet on neutral territory, launching their Champions Trophy campaigns at Edgbaston. Australia is, without doubt, the favourite, but arrives in the middle of a protracted pay dispute with the board. “We know that the ACA (Australian Cricketers’ Association) is handling everything back home,” the captain Steve Smith said here on Thursday. “Our focus is on this tournament. It's a very cut-throat tournament and you need to be switched on the whole time. So the boys are focused on that.”

Tantalizing as the prospect of unleashing four fast bowlers on the opposition may be, Smith admitted that Australia would not field all of its quicks. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and James Pattinson have all rarely been available at the same time, due in no small part to the chronic injury problems the last two have faced, but they figure in Australia's 15-man squad here. It's far more likely, though, that Pattinson will make way for an all-rounder in Marcus Stoinis, who slammed a stunning century in Auckland in January, or John Hastings.

New Zealand will hope Trent Boult and Tim Southee can bother Australia with the moving ball, as they have on more than one occasion. Kane Williamson has a number of options to choose from and will have to decide what team combination works best. The New Zealand captain hoped his side would not give Smith, who turns 28 on Friday, any presents. "Hopefully not too many half-volleys," he laughed. "He doesn't need any. He's scoring plenty of runs."

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