The opening day of the first day-night test match between Australia and New Zealand this Friday at the Adelaide Oval will be a poignant affair.
It comes a year to the day after the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes*. The players will go to tea at 4:08, pausing for a minute’s silence. No 408 was Hughes’s Australian test selection number.
Despite a thumb injury scare David Warner will open for Australia. Warner has said that the 2011 series loss to New Zealand still hurts and he is keen to ensure Australia’s hard work to date is not wasted by a drawn series. “We would consider that as a loss because we’ve played so well,” Warner told the Roar.
With Mitchell Johnson out mid-series after his abrupt announcement of retirement from test cricket, fast bowler James Pattison and star pace-man Mitchell Starc are likely to open the attack. Two spinners have been named in the team – Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe. David Warner, Steve Smith and Joe Burns and Voges are all in form and give Australia a daunting batting line-up.
For the Kiwis, inspirational captain Brendan McCallum will need to regain his touch with the bat to bolster the form men Ross Taylor and pace spearhead Trent Boult if New Zealand is to spoil Australia’s party and level the series. Captain Steven Smith will be looking to end the series on a high to pile more pressure on Australia’s next opponents, the West Indies. That three-match series opens with the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
*Hughes was batting for South Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 25 last year, with 63 on the board, when fast bowler Sean Abbott dug in a short one that rose sharply to strike Hughes on the neck. He stumbled briefly, fell to his knees and collapsed, never to regain consciousness. He was taken to St Vincent’s hospital with his best mate David Warner by his side but on November 27 the family decided to withdraw life support. His death provoked a global outpouring of support and tributes.
Australia and New Zealand will definitely both have him in mind as the match begins. Between that and the pink ball debut it will be a momentous occasion. – Jesse Mullens
Top photo of Steven Smith and his vice-captain David Warner from Cricket Australia’s Facebook page.