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Pink posers aplenty as Kiwis set to arrive

Cricket

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Summer starts on Friday – in a cricketing sense at least.

Domestic one-day action has rumbled along for a fortnight but when New Zealand land in Sydney on Tuesday it will herald the arrival of so much more.

For both Cricket Australia and Steve Smith’s side, the stakes are high.

It’s too early to accurately assess CA’s substantial investment in the inaugural day-night Test, which begins on November 27 in Adelaide.

But judgment day will come – and some of the most forthright feedback could be from CA’s most high-profile employees.

“I couldn’t see the thing at night on the boundary. I couldn’t see the ball,” Mitchell Starc said prior to the Ashes, expressing reservations held by many teammates.

Kookaburra has been tinkering with its pink ball innovation to a point where CA is confident it will be of Test standard.

The bright lights of Adelaide Oval will examine that claim, especially if the third Test doubles as a trans-Tasman series decider.

The first Test starts on November 5 at the Gabba, while the WACA will host the second clash on November 13-17.

Both sides have a taste of pink-ball action before arriving in Brisbane.

The Blackcaps’ tour starts on Friday, when they face the Prime Minister’s XI in a one-day clash at Manuka Oval.

In recent years the Canberra fixture has been devoid of meaning.

This season CA will field a team boasting plenty of Test aspirants due to the postponed tour of Bangladesh – and the pink ball will be used.

Adam Voges, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns and Peter Siddle have been picked for the tour match.

The following week they will feature in a star-studded start to the Sheffield Shield season, when a pink ball will be used again.

“I don’t think it’s ideal,” Mitchell Johnson said of the day-night round.

A suboptimal lead-up involving white, pink and red balls is one of many issues for Smith, coach Darren Lehmann and chairman of selectors Rod Marsh to manage over the next fortnight.

Their big dilemma is settling on which batsmen replace Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers in the XI that played the fifth Ashes Test.

The domestic one-day form of Smith and Starc has been impressive, while offspinner Nathan Lyon looms as a key player for the team in transition.

New Zealand will be buoyed by the fact they won the most recent trans-Tasman Test, in 2011 at Bellerive.

Trent Boult debuted in that match, now the 26-year-old is one of the world’s best bowlers.

Swing specialists Boult and Tim Southee, who both grabbed five-wicket hauls prior to boarding the plane to Australia, will need to fire if NZ are to triumph in the three-Test series.

– AAP

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