Trent Boult will return for New Zealand for the Boxing Day Test against Australia, skipper Kane Williamson has confirmed.

Paceman Boult missed the first Test, which New Zealand lost by 296 runs in Perth, due to a rib injury sustained against England.

However, the left-armer is back in a boost for Williamson's men, while the skipper also confirmed Tom Blundell is to replace Jeet Raval at the top of the order.

Speaking about Blundell's inclusion, Williamson said: "He's a positive player and a smart cricketer so it's just trying to adapt to the conditions. 

"It's important he goes out and plays his natural game.

"He's been a very good player for a long time and he's a mature head. It's a really exciting opportunity for him."

After making scores of just 166 and 171 in the first Test, Williamson is confident New Zealand have learned plenty ahead of the second contest at the MCG.

"Perth was tough and Australia are very good and tactically sound," he said.

"It's important we learn from some bits of Perth but turn our focus to Melbourne and changing conditions and perhaps not be too reactive to that performance."

Marnus Labuschagne has made a spectacular start to his international career and he can join several Australia greats during the Boxing Day Test.

Labuschagne, 25, has cemented his spot at number three in Australia's batting order heading into the second Test against New Zealand in Melbourne.

The right-hander only made his Test debut in October last year, but he has taken his chance.

Labuschagne has scored 1,103 runs at 58.05, including three centuries, which have come in his past three Tests.

History awaits if he can make it a century in four consecutive Tests in Melbourne.

Only five Australians have managed that feat in Test history and Labuschagne can add his name to the list.

Don Bradman managed it three times – including in a record six straight Tests against England in 1937-38.

Jack Fingleton (1936), Neil Harvey (1949-50), Matthew Hayden (2001-02 and 2005) and Steve Smith (2014-15) are the other Australians to have scored centuries in four straight Tests.

New Zealand struggled to find an answer to Labuschagne in Perth, where he made scores of 143 and 50 in a comprehensive victory for Australia.

Labuschagne only made his first Test century last month and there has been no looking back.

Now, less than 15 months after his Test debut, he has the chance to join a group of Australia's best on a huge stage at the MCG.

Tim Paine revealed Australia were yet to decide whether to play a fifth bowler in the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand in Melbourne.

With Josh Hazlewood (hamstring) sidelined, James Pattinson is set to come in, but Michael Neser could also be included for a Test debut.

Paine said Australia would wait until Thursday to confirm their line-up as they keep an eye on the MCG wicket, which has been lifeless in recent years and is set to again draw plenty of attention.

The Australia captain said they had "two different teams" ahead of the Test, while playing down any suggestions playing a fifth bowler would be a risk.

"Not looking at the wicket that we played on in the last two or three Boxing Day Test matches, that wicket has been very hard to take 20 wickets," Paine told a news conference on Wednesday.

"If it's something similar to that then it's certainly a possibility that that's the way we go.

"Our batting team in the last few months has been scoring a lot of runs so if we were to go one more bowler we'd be comfortable they would do the job and obviously the bowlers we would be bringing in can all bat.

"Whilst we're taking a batter out we're probably lengthening our line-up a little bit so we'll see what happens tomorrow and go from there."

An additional bowler would mean Paine, who averages 30.40 in Tests, would move up from seven to six in the batting order.

But the 35-year-old is unfazed, saying: "If I have to bat in the top six that's what I'll do.

"I'm not too fussed whether it's six or seven, there's not a huge difference so we're all here to do what we think is best for the team.

"If guys bat up or down the order a little bit more than usual then that's what we'll do, same with our new-ball guys, we swap the new ball around and guys have taken that on board and played their role."

Brad Mooar will leave the Scarlets at the end of his first season in charge to complete the New Zealand coaching staff.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) on Tuesday confirmed an agreement had been reached with the Welsh region, who will be paid compensation for head coach Mooar to return to his homeland in June.

The former Crusaders assistant coach will assist new All Blacks boss Ian Foster and take the role of attack coach.

Foster last week brought in John Plumtree to look after the forwards and Greg Feek as scrum coach, while also retaining Scott McLeod to coach the defence. 

The All Blacks head coach, who replaced Steve Hansen after New Zealand's failure to win an unprecedented third successive Rugby World Cup, said: "We're delighted to have Brad confirmed to join us.

"I know the new coaching group is excited and keen to get into their work next season and we'll look forward to welcoming Brad in following his commitments with Scarlets.

"On behalf of the All Blacks, I'd also like to thank Scarlets for their understanding around Brad's release. It is very much appreciated."

Mooar said: "To be joining the All Blacks coaching staff next year is an incredibly humbling and proud moment for my family and me.

"The opportunity to help coach your country comes around very rarely, so I would like to thank the Scarlets club for allowing me to join the All Blacks.

"Similarly, I’d like to thank Ian Foster and NZR not only for this opportunity, but also to finish the season with the Scarlets."

Mooar joined the Scarlets at the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season following Wayne Pivac's appointment as Wales head coach.

Tim Southee said New Zealand are relishing the rare opportunity to face Australia in a Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Australia and New Zealand will do battle in the second Test in Melbourne, with the Black Caps set to end their 32-year Boxing Day drought.

New Zealand have not featured in a Boxing Day Test against Australia at the MCG since 1987 – a match that finished in a draw.

Preparing for Thursday's opening day as New Zealand fight to keep the three-Test series alive, Black Caps paceman Southee told reporters: "A lot of great cricketers from New Zealand haven't had the chance to do it so it's something special.

"I'm sure everyone grew up watching the Boxing Day Test. We've played a couple of Boxing Day Tests in Christchurch over the last few years, but this is the Boxing Day Test.

"The crowds and the history behind it and New Zealand not having had one for 30-odd years, it's something a little bit different. It's great to be a part of it and great to be here."

New Zealand must win in Melbourne to keep the Test series alive following their 296-run rout at the hands of trans-Tasman rivals Australia in Perth.

The Black Caps were without pace spearhead Trent Boult for the Test opener due to a side strain, but he is set to return for the MCG showdown.

"I want to really embrace it and appreciate that stage for what it is," Boult told reporters on Tuesday.

"This is the stage that a lot of people dream of being on so to get this opportunity in my career, it's definitely something that I'm looking forward to.

"If I can tick all the right boxes with my body and get myself fit, then I can't wait to get out there."

 

Australia head coach Justin Langer insisted star opener David Warner will be "ready to go" for the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand in Melbourne.

Warner sent a scare through the Australia camp on Monday after he was struck on his left hand during a net session at the MCG.

The 33-year-old batsman – who posted scores of 43 and 19 in the 296-run rout of the Black Caps in Perth – returned to the nets later in the day, while he also featured on Tuesday morning.

Despite concerns, Langer declared Warner a certain starter for the second Test as Australia look to seal a series victory.

"He's fine," Langer told reporters on Tuesday. "There was a little concern for about two seconds and then he saw the doctor and he's hitting balls again.

"We know how well he's playing at the moment, we know how much all the boys love playing Test cricket and Boxing Day cricket … so he'll be ready to go."

"It's not unusual for Davey to do that," Langer said of Warner taking his left hand off the bat at times. "He's in really good nick, he's a very experienced player now, he knows how to prepare. As I said, I've got absolutely no worries that he'll be raring to go."

Langer, who also confirmed James Pattinson will replace injured quick Josh Hazlewood for his first Test on Australian soil since 2016, revealed Australia are pondering a selection shake-up.

The MCG has produced a lifeless pitch over the years, though a Sheffield Shield match earlier this month had to be abandoned due to a dangerous surface and unpredictable bounce.

If the pitch continues its theme, Langer said Australia could drop a batsman and field five frontline bowlers against New Zealand.

"The Australian cricket team doesn't usually go down that path of having an extra bowler," said Langer. "But if we're going to play on a wicket like we have in the last two years or so here at the MCG, we've certainly got to find a way to take 20 wickets.

"If we turn up on Boxing Day and it looks really flat, we've got the flexibility to be able to do it. In most circumstances ... we don't play an extra bowler because you don't need to do it.

Tom Blundell will replace the struggling Jeet Raval for New Zealand in the Boxing Day Test against Australia.

Raval has scored just 66 runs in his past nine Test innings, making two scores of one in the series opener in Perth.

Blundell played in two Tests against West Indies in late 2017, including making a century on debut while batting in the lower-order.

The 29-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman said he may have to change his approach when the second Test starts in Melbourne on Thursday.

"I think it's just a mindset shift, it's being a little bit patient outside off-stump and getting through 30-odd balls," Blundell told Radio Sport on Sunday.

"Once you do that, expanding my game from there."

He added: "You try to still bat the same, it's just the first 30 balls you're going to have to be a little bit more patient outside that off-stump.

"If I can last those 30 balls, hopefully can bat a little bit more positively."

Blundell opened for New Zealand during a tour game against a Victorian XI on Sunday, retiring on 59.

The Black Caps were comprehensively beaten by Australia by 296 runs in the first Test.

Ollie Pope is hoping lessons learned from watching New Zealand's BJ Watling and England captain Joe Root will provide him with a platform heading into the Test series against South Africa.

Pope scored 132 from 145 deliveries in England's first innings against South Africa A, in the visitors' final warm-up match ahead of the first Test, which starts on Boxing Day.

The 21-year-old, who hit 75 in England's second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton, says taking tips from Root – who scored 226 in that match – and Watling, who amassed 205 in the first game of the series, has helped him adapt his style.

"In New Zealand the wickets were good value, fairly slow. Watching the way BJ Watling went about his stuff and Rooty when he got his double hundred," Pope told Sky Sports.

"You can almost be really specific and wait for the ball to get right in your area. The way I got out in the first Test was with right shots, I got a bit greedy.

"You don’t need to take those risks. If I keep batting time, face as many balls as I can, hopefully the rewards will come.

"It's nice [to start the tour with 100]. It's nice to get some time in the middle. I felt good out there, going into the Tests knowing that I’ve got used to the wickets a little bit, adapted my game a little bit. Hopefully I can take that into the first Test."

England's squad has been struck by an illness, meaning Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach have so far been unable to feature in the warm-up games, while Joe Denly revealed he had been suffering from "flu-ey" symptoms.

Fortunately for England, Archer, Broad and Leach trained on Saturday, and Pope is hopeful the visitors will be able to call on a full complement of players for the first Test at Centurion.

"The boys have been training this afternoon and they're getting back to it now," Pope said.

"It's been a bit of a strange start to the tour with everyone being injured or ill.

"This was supposed to be a first-class game but it ended up not being because we didn't have the seamers to put out."

James Pattinson is set to make his return for Australia's Boxing Day showdown against New Zealand, according to head coach Justin Langer.

Pattinson missed the Test series against Pakistan after he was suspended for the opening match in November due to a level two breach of Cricket Australia's code of conduct for abuse of an opposition player in the Sheffield Shield.

But the Victoria paceman is poised to replace injured quick Josh Hazlewood for the second Test against New Zealand at the MCG in Melbourne, despite Peter Siddle being drafted into the squad.

"I am really looking forward to seeing Patto bowl and bowl well in this Boxing Day Test, which is his home ground as well," Langer told 6PR on Saturday.

"James Pattinson was 12th man in the last game and I hope what I have shown in the last 18 months is that we have been really consistent in our selection.

"He's been unlucky, he only played a couple of Tests in the Ashes and he is so hungry like Mitchell Starc.

"The way he has come back from playing [two] Tests in the Ashes has just been brilliant."

Australia can wrap up the three-Test series following their 296-run rout of the Black Caps in Perth.

All eyes will be on the MCG pitch when Australia and trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand do battle, starting Thursday.

MCG curator Matt Page has come under fire after a Sheffield Shield match was abandoned due to an unsafe surface earlier this month.

"I know they are going to be under some pressure, there is no doubt about that," Langer said. "But I also know that Matt Page is an incredibly hard worker.

"They got it wrong in the last Shield game, but they were getting it right for the two Shield games before.

"He'll have some nervous nights Pagey, but I am confident he will get a good wicket up."

Head coach Gary Stead believes New Zealand can benefit from being able to put their feet up after day one of the warm-up match against Victoria XI was cancelled due to extreme heat.

The Black Caps were due to start the two-day match at Scotch College on Friday, but temperatures are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius in Melbourne.

They will instead contest a full-day match on Sunday after training in what is forecast to be cooler conditions on Saturday as they prepare for the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the MCG.

The tourists had to contend with high temperatures during a 296-run defeat in the first Test and Stead says it would have made no sense to toil in the heat again if it could be avoided.

"If it's going to be that hot, I'm not sure we're going to get too much out of it, and there's just the danger element as well," Stead said.

"It's hard to underestimate the effect that Perth had on us. We were in 40C temperatures every day.

"The travel back from Perth to Melbourne is pretty gruelling as well, and guys are still struggling to get their sleep patterns right.

"Having the extra day shouldn't do any harm to us."

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has added Hurricanes boss John Plumtree and former All Black Greg Feek to his coaching team.

Hurricanes head coach Plumtree, who will work with the forwards, and ex-Ireland scrum coach Feek have signed two-year deals in a new era for the three-time world champions.

Scott McLeod will stay on as defence coach, with Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar expected to complete the coaching team.

Grant Fox will remain a selector for the 2020 season along with Foster and Plumtree.

"I'm delighted to confirm three of the four other coaches who'll make up our coaching team," said Foster, who was promoted to replace Steve Hansen this month.

"They're all outstanding coaches in their own right, and we'll have new voices and fresh ideas in the All Blacks, which will be really stimulating for everyone, and help us grow as we enter a new era."

Incoming New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said: "When Ian was appointed to the head coach job, we were all impressed by the collective strength of the team that he'd assembled.

"It's a combination of youth and experience, with both international and New Zealand experience, and they'll bring new ideas to the playing group, which is exciting for the future."

Trent Boult is hopeful of lining up for New Zealand against Australia in the Boxing Day Test.

The left-arm paceman missed the series opener, which Australia won by 296 runs in Perth, due to a side strain.

Boult, 30, is eager to be ready for the second Test in Melbourne beginning on December 26.

"I'm feeling pretty good, probably a little bit frustrated to be on the sidelines and watching the games tick by," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"But I feel like I've been rehabbing well, the ball is coming out alright and obviously I'm hoping to be pushing for Boxing Day and to get back out there."

Boult has missed two Tests due to the injury and the Black Caps felt his absence in Perth as they were comprehensively beaten.

But he wants to return in Melbourne, welcoming the enormity of the occasion of the Boxing Day Test.

"I want to really embrace it and appreciate that stage for what it is," Boult said.

"Test cricket is my favourite format, this is the stage that a lot of people dream of being on so to get this opportunity in my career, it's definitely something I'm looking forward to.

"So, if I can tick all the right boxes with my body and get myself fit then I can't wait to get out there."

Australia have called in veteran bowler Peter Siddle to replace Josh Hazlewood for the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand.

Selectors have turned to local Victoria paceman Siddle for the Melbourne showdown after Hazlewood injured his hamstring in Perth.

Siddle is the only addition for the second Test at the MCG following Australia's 296-run rout of the Black Caps in the series opener at Perth Stadium.

The 35-year-old – a veteran of 67 Tests and 221 wickets – featured in the Ashes in England, though he has not played a home Test since November 2016.

"He is a proven Test match performer with an exceptional knowledge of the MCG which will be a valuable part of our preparation," said national selector Trevor Hohns.

 

Australia squad: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Michael Neser, Peter Siddle.

New Zealand have called up uncapped pace bowler Kyle Jamieson to replace the injured Lockie Ferguson ahead of the second Test against Australia.

Ferguson is to return home after suffering a calf strain on his Test debut in Perth, where the Black Caps suffered a 296-run defeat inside four days.

Jamieson - who represented New Zealand at the 2014 Under-19 Cricket World Cup - could now make his international bow at the MCG, the 24-year-old having caught the eye of team management while playing for Auckland.

"It's an exciting opportunity for Kyle, who has impressed in the Plunket Shield domestic four-day competition," New Zealand coach Gary Stead said.

"We've also been really encouraged by his progress in the New Zealand Cricket winter camps and his performances for New Zealand A.

"Standing at over two metres tall he obviously gets good bounce and brings something different to our other pace bowlers."

Having sent down 11 overs in the first Test, recording figures of 0-47, Ferguson is set to be out for between four and six weeks.

He was selected in the absence of Trent Boult, who missed the game due to a side strain. However, the left-armer could be back in time to feature in Melbourne, with the next game starting on December 26.

"We're all absolutely gutted for Lockie," Stead added. "He'd worked really hard to earn his Test debut and to have it cruelly halted by injury was truly unlucky.

"He'll return home to begin his recovery with an eye to India's tour of New Zealand starting in late January."

 

Lockie Ferguson has been ruled out of the remainder of New Zealand's Test series against Australia due to a calf injury.

Ferguson suffered a calf strain on his Test debut in Perth, where Australia claimed a 296-run victory on Sunday to take a 1-0 series lead.

The 28-year-old will miss the Boxing Day Test and the third encounter in Sydney starting on January 3 as he recovers from the injury.

"Lockie Ferguson is returning home from Australia after sustaining a grade two right calf muscle tendon strain while bowling in the first Test in Perth," the Black Caps wrote on Twitter on Monday.

"The injury is expected to need four to six weeks rehabilitation. A replacement player will be named in the next 24 hours."

Ferguson bowled just 11 overs in the series opener, finishing with figures of 0-47.

New Zealand are hopeful star paceman Trent Boult will return from injury for the second Test in Melbourne.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.