Big crowd expected for inaugural pink-ball match, with both McCullum and Smith keen to end series with victory
At least 40,000 people are expected to be at the Adelaide Oval on Friday (November 27) for the first day of cricket’s inaugural day-night Test, the third and final one of the series between Australia and New Zealand. The match will be played with a pink ball, with the cricket world watching the latest addition to the game’s 138-year-old history with keen interest.
“People are voting with their feet and they are encouraged by what the pink ball Test has to offer and for us to play in front of 40,000 people in a Test match is pretty amazing,” Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand skipper, told reporters. “So we’re really excited about it and hopefully it goes off brilliantly, with no challenges and no problems.
“If we have the final session on the fifth day under lights and the Test match result is in the balance then it could be anything for Test cricket. It could be something that is outstanding for the game moving forward.”
Steven Smith, whose Australian team currently lead the series 1-0, was also upbeat about creating something new and exciting for the traditional format.
“We are creating history playing in the first day-night Test, so I’m sure a lot of people are going to be watching around the world and that’s really exciting for world cricket,” he said. “I think it’s a really exciting concept. I can’t wait to get out and give it a crack. I think the crowds have rolled in.
“There’s some big numbers expected for at least the first three days here. So I think it’s really exciting for us moving forward.”
McCullum felt that the pink ball would be challenging, but said his team was ready to adapt to the conditions.
“There are a few unknowns, but the guys who batted against the new ball the other night said it was challenging but it was not unplayable,” said McCullum. “It doesn’t mean you can’t get runs, doesn’t mean you can’t survive and ensure that you’re there to bat the next day when the conditions will be easier.
“It is a quirk of this Test match and of the game but there are some good players on show and I’m sure they will be able to negotiate those challenges,” he added. “No one knows at the moment, that’s one of the things that’ll come out of this day-night Test. There is going to be some different demands tactically on captains and how they try to exploit some of those opportunities.”
Moving his focus on to the game, McCullum admitted the team was pretty nervous at the start of the series, but has got over the stage fright and is aiming to leave Australia with heads held high.
“We were a bit nervous at the start of this series to be honest,” he said. “We don’t often get the opportunity to play in such a big series and test ourselves against the best over a long period of time.
“We walked into this Test series as well prepared as we thought we could be but just a little bit nervous and I think that affected the way we were able to execute our skills,” McCullum went on. “Credit to Australia. They put us under a lot of pressure early on. It was a combination of us not being quite at our best and Australia playing really well.
“If we can pull off a Test match victory here we leave Australia reasonably content with our work. We came over here to win the series, but that now is off the table but we can certainly leave with a lot of respect and a drawn series which would be a very good achievement against a new and emerging Australian side.”
McCullum did not name a team, saying Trent Boult’s back complaint would be further assessed on match morning.
Meanwhile, Steve O’Keefe has been released from Australia’s squad to play in the Sheffield Shield, meaning the home team won’t be fielding two spinners on a traditionally spin-friendly surface. Smith said the pitch had more grass than usual and Australia would use three quicks and Mitchell Marsh, along with Nathan Lyon.
Australia, however, is yet to settle on the side for the third Test, with James Pattinson and Peter Siddle vying to replace Mitchell Johnson.
“There’s probably a little bit more grass than I anticipated to be on it so that added bit of grass has probably swayed our decision,” said Smith. “It’s nice to have a few fresh faces in and ready to go so we’ll wait and see how we go with the final XI from there.”
Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (capt), BJ Watling (wk), Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Mark Craig, Neil Wagner, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell McClenaghan, Hamish Rutherford.