New Zealand seeks to save pride in smoky Sydney

Sydney, January 2 (AFP) Smoke fog could come into play while New Zealand seeks to rescue some pride from its miserable tour of Australia on the third and final test in Sydney this week.

With forest fires across the state of New South Wales, Saturday's game day two is emerging as the biggest challenge with the forecast of temperatures to skyrocket and expected fog conditions.

The issue of smoke is difficult for officials, who currently rely on a combination of air quality guidelines from the International Cricket Council, state governments and the Australian Sports Institute.

But there are inconsistencies in what is considered unsafe, with Cricket Australia and the players association currently working to develop better protocols around visibility and air quality.

Follow a Big Bash League game in Canberra that was abandoned this month due to the toxic haze of forest fires.

Currently, it is up to the arbitrators to decide if the conditions are safe, without any formal framework for that decision.

With the first two tests in Perth and Melbourne ending in heavy losses in four days, New Zealand will need all the help they can get.

Coach Gary Stead admitted that the Black Caps were beaten by Australia again in their 247 goals in Melbourne and had to return to the drawing board.

We have to find some areas where we can continue to save, make improvements and put pressure on Australia for longer, he said.

When you are pressured during the periods in which Australia has subjected us, then you have to ask yourself what we are doing.

Australia has three bowlers at 145 km/h and a spinning wheel (Nathan Lyon) that has taken more than 300 test positions, so you always face it. You don't get a postponement and that's the hard part for us.

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Melbourne's bright spot was the opening of the impromptu Tom Blundell in the second century of the innings and is willing to retain the role with Tom Latham in Sydney.

But there are doubts about Captain Kane Williamson, who has had a bad tour.

The New Zealand Herald reported that he lost training Wednesday with flu-like symptoms, and batter Henry Nicholls suffered similar problems.

Jeet Raval is the only specialized batter waiting in the wings, but he has been out of shape and left in Melbourne.

Australian captain Tim Paine has made it clear that his team has no intention of improving now that the series has been won, with New Zealand potentially under a five-pronged attack in Sydney, starting Friday.

Depending on the field, two specialized spinners could play alongside their fast bowling machine by Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson.

Leg shooter Mitchell Swepson, defended by Shane Warne, has been summoned to the team and is eager to make his debut.

The team is doing great right now and it will be a hard team to break, he said.

But I'm here and I'm going to prepare to play. That is the only thing I can do. New Zealand's task has been much more difficult with striker player Trent Boult discarded after a Starc goalkeeper in Melbourne broke his non-bowling hand.

They have become Will Somerville, who grew up in Australia, as his replacement. The fact that he played a lot of cricket in Sydney during his career in New South Wales will also be useful as we prepare for this Final Test, Stead said. (AFP) APA APA

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