Ed Hawkins previews the first match of the Trans-Tasman series from Sydney on Saturday and cannot justify short odds on Australia
"These are odds priced on historic Australia dominance from years which are utterly irrelevant"
Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 3 February 08:20 GMT
TV: live on BT Sport
Australia's horror ODI form is not repeated in T20. Their record is average rather than poor. It's eight wins in the last 18.
Two results that stand out are the 2-1 reverse at home to Sri Lanka and a 2-1 win against South Africa away from home. They are struggling for consistency it would seem.
It would stand to reason, also, that if they are struggling for aggression and rhthym when batting in ODI they may not know how to set the tempo in this format. In the last year Australia are a lowly ninth in the world for number of fours hit. Only Bangladesh, Ireland, England (surprisingly), the UAE and Papua New Guinea have hit fewer sixes.
So it makes sense for them to have raided the Big Bash for the best hitters. Chris Lynn, Travis Head, Alex Carey, D'Arcy Short and Glenn Maxwell are all in. David Warner leads but Aaron Finch is injured.
You'll notice a surplus of openers there, by the way, so balance will be key. With the ball there is no Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood or Pat Cummins. AJ Tye, excellent domestically, and Kane Richardson should open the attack.
New Zealand are rated as the number two side in the world behind Pakistan by the ICC. The two met last month and Pakistan won 2-1. Previously they had won seven from ten games.
Colin Munro, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson are all in the top 15 of the ICC batting rankings. Only India have as many. Their strength would appear to be with the ball, however.
Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are ranked Nos 1 and 3 respectively. While don't forget Trent Boult's pace and verve.
Still, it doesn't matter which format the Kiwis are playing they always look a batsman light. And they are constantly on the search for another middle-order player. Anaru Kitchen and Tom Bruce will audition during this series.
This is a good batting wicket which holds true for the chaser. In Bash cricket this season the last five scores read: 189-160-74-156-113. It is true that the chaser has prospered recently but if we go back to the last international match played at the SCG - Australia v India 2016 - we were talking about a toss bias the other way. Australia lost that match when they failed to defend 197.
Australia are [1.59] and New Zealand [2.68]. Excuse us while we choke on our sandwich but that's an early candidate for worst value of the year about the home side.
There is no way on earth we could justify backing them at such a price. Experimental XI against the No 2 team in the world?
Look, we're not saying the Kiwis should be favourites but [1.80] playing [2.2] would have been more like it. These are odds priced on historic Australia dominance from years which are utterly irrelevant.
Considering Warner's awful recent form there won't be many takers at [4.2]. So does Lynn open? The [4.3] is value if so. Short is [4.3] but may have to play in the middle order. Poor value. Maxwell is Australia's top-rated batsman in this format and is [6.2]. We have no idea where he will bat, however.
Guptill and Munro usually open for the Kiwis. They are priced at [2.78] and [3.8] respectively. Williamson is solid at No 3 and gets a [4.5] quote. Look out for Colin de Grandhomme at [8.4]. He is a real power player who won't need to be at the crease for long.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l