New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum pads up for his final Test Saturday in Christchurch, with Australia determined to ruin his farewell party as they eye world domination.
If Australia sweep the two-Test series, which they lead 1-0, they will hurdle India to be the top-ranked Test side in the world, which is part of their master plan to head all formats of the game.
They are already number one in one-day internationals and have a chance to lift their Twenty20 ranking from eighth at the World Twenty20 in India next month.
“We are going to be doing our best to make sure we spoil his last game,” Australia captain Steve Smith warned ahead of the second Test which will be McCullum`s international swansong.
“But he has been a terrific player and a great servant of New Zealand cricket for a long time.”
Despite the groundsman at Hagley Oval saying it was not his job to produce grassy, seaming wickets just because that`s what New Zealand wanted, the pitch had a considerable green hue when both sides looked at it on Thursday.
It adds importance to winning the toss, as Australia found at the first Test in Wellington when they rolled New Zealand for 183 inside two sessions on the first day and went on to win by an innings and 52 runs.
Calling the toss correctly is not McCullum`s forte — he has won just three of the past 11 — but in case his luck turns New Zealand have publicly called for a green top.
Coach Mike Hesson said he wanted his spearhead bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult to have a crack at the Australian batsmen in swinging and seaming conditions.
“As a bowler I`d love to see it a lot greener” than Wellington, said Boult. However, Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who has a knack for dismissing McCullum, claimed he was not concerned about the colour of the pitch because Australia “go into every Test match expecting to win”.
Marsh, who has removed McCullum four times during this series and the November Tests in Australia, marked the 34-year-old New Zealander as a wicket Australia put extra effort into claiming.