Inexperienced Australia take on inspired New Zealand

Australia will field an inexperienced bowling attack in the first Test against New Zealand Getty Images

By Robert Smith

Brisbane: 29 Nov, 2011

Australia will field their most inexperienced bowling attack in decades against a New Zealand team chasing their first Test victory in Australia for 26 years at the Gabba on Thursday.

An injury crisis has decimated Australia’s pace attack, with skipper Michael Clarke likely to rely on at least two Test newcomers to get the wickets against the Black Caps, who sit a lowly eighth in the world rankings.

The sidelining of Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnston, allrounder Shane Watson and exciting youngster Pat Cummins forced selectors to choose Test debutants James Pattinson, Ben Cutting and Mitchell Starc along with new opening batsman David Warner.

While one of the tyro pacemen is expected to be named 12th man, Peter Siddle will still lead the most inexperienced Australian Test attack since Merv Hughes and Bruce Reid made their debuts against India in 1985.

Suddenly New Zealand, who have won on only three of their last 22 Tests and had been considered an entree to fourth-ranked Australia’s four-Test home series against India next month, are injury-free and in scoring form.

The Black Caps plastered an Australia A attack featuring Pattinson, Cutting and Starc for 890 runs in a high-scoring four-day draw last weekend, with three Kiwi batsmen, Jesse Ryder (175), Brendon McCullum (146) and captain Ross Taylor (138) hitting centuries.

New Zealand’s chances have improved of a first Test victory in Australia since the days of pace great Richard Hadlee, who spearheaded their last win, in Perth in 1985.

The Australians, coming off a thrilling two-wicket win over South Africa in Johannesburg earlier this month to draw a two-Test series with the Proteas, will still start favourites to beat New Zealand at their Gabba fortress.

Australia have not lost a Test at the Gabba ground since defeat to the formidable West Indies in 1988 and still boast an experienced batting lineup featuring Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin and Clarke. (AFP)