The Black Caps have made two changes in their playing for the Boxing Day Test against Australia. Fit-again Trent Boult is back to lead New Zealand’s pace attack; Tom Blundell will replace Jeet Raval at the top of the order.
The dangerous Boult missed the first Test in Perth, where his team was thrashed by 296 runs, with a rib injury that also kept him out of their final clash against England. But he has worked his way back to fitness, desperate to play in the Black Caps first Boxing Day Test at the MCG since 1987, with a crowd of more 75,000 expected on the opening day.
Skipper Kane Williamson has also confirmed Blundell, who usually bats in the middle-order, would open along with Tom Latham in place of the out-of-form Ravel.
“He’s a positive player and a smart cricketer, so it’s just trying to adapt to the conditions. It’s important he goes out and plays his natural game,” Williamson told reporters of Blundell.
“He’s been a very good player for a long time, and he’s a mature head… it’s a really exciting opportunity for him.”
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) December 25, 2019
New Zealand have had ten days to recover from their thrashing in the Perth Test, which saw their batsmen skittled for 166 and 171 against the Pink Ball.
“Perth was tough, and Australia are very good and tactically sound,” Williamson said after his team’s batsmen were put in front of their pacers in the nets on Christmas Day.
“It’s important we learn from some bits of Perth but turn our focus to Melbourne and changing conditions and perhaps not be too reactive to that performance.”
New Zealand’s playing XI:
Ross Taylor, Tim Southee, BJ Watling (wk), Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson (c), Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Latham, Mitchell Santner, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Henry Nicholls.