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Steve Smith licking lips over pacy WACA wicket

Skipper Steve Smith said on Thursday the pace and bounce of the WACA wicket will suit Australia just fine as they bid to wrap up their Test series against New Zealand in Perth.

AFP |November 12, 2015, 2:59 PM IST
Steve Smith licking lips over pacy WACA wicket

Perth: Skipper Steve Smith said on Thursday the pace and bounce of the WACA wicket will suit Australia just fine as they bid to wrap up their Test series against New Zealand in Perth. Smith will be seeking to capture his first Test series win as Australia's new full-time captain in Friday's second Test in Perth following Michael Clarke's retirement.

He named an unchanged team following Australia's thumping 208-run win over the Black Caps in Brisbane earlier this week. Smith is cautiously confident, especially given most of the current New Zealand team have never played at the WACA. "That probably helps us a little bit," he told reporters. "It's a place that takes a little bit of getting used to. I think as a batsman it takes a little bit longer to get in.

"It's nice to know some of their players haven't played here and we've got a lot of experience here. The groundsman thinks there's going to be quite a bit of pace and bounce, which is going to be nice."

New Zealand, who haven't won in Perth since they clinched their last series win in Australia at the WACA 30 years ago, must beat the home side to take the three-Test series to a decider. Despite the WACA's reputation as a fast pitch, paceman Peter Siddle again remains 12th man with the Australians again preferring Josh Hazlewood.

"He (Siddle) was talked about. He's bowling really well at the moment but we've won the last Test with this line-up," Smith said.

Hazlewood was close to making way for Siddle but not because of form. "Josh's loads are quite high at the moment he's bowled quite a lot over the past month or two," Smith said. "So it was definitely spoken about. But we think he's going to do a great job... he bowled really well last time he was here, against the South Africans in the one-dayers."

Smith was unsure whether Hazlewood would need to be rested for the final Test of the three-match series, the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide. "We'll wait and see how he pulls up after this Test," he said.

The only uncertainty regarding Smith's line-up is who takes the new ball. Smith started with left-armers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc in both innings at the Gabba but hinted he may change things at the WACA. Starc's career-best match figures of eight for 209 came at the venue in 2012, while Johnson's eight for 61 at the WACA in 2008 is his best haul in a Test innings.

"The breeze is going to play a part (in) whether Mitch Johnson opens the bowling," Smith said. "It really depends which way it's going. We'll wait and see."

Smith said he had spoken with Starc after the paceman hurled a ball at Kiwi batsman Mark Craig on the final day of the Brisbane Test. "As I said last week, I was pretty disappointed with Starc's actions out on the field. I had a chat to him and he responded really well, so hopefully he doesn't do that again," Smith said. "If it is needed (I'll have a stern word to the players). I guess that is pretty important."

Smith noted Nathan Lyon would have a big role to play and expects short spells for Johnson, Starc and Hazlewood due to the forecast heat. "It's nice to have a spinner that bowls really well on bouncy tracks... there's a good chance he'll bowl quite a few overs," he said.

Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon. Peter Siddle (12th man)

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