Preparations for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand have been thrown into chaos after a dangerous MCG wicket forced a Sheffield Shield match to be suspended.

Australia and trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand are scheduled to meet in Melbourne for the second match of a three-Test series, starting December 26.

But Saturday's Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia was called off, leaving organisers and MCG curators scrambling in a worrying sign.

Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times on day one of the Shield match, prompting umpires to take action due to unpredictable bounce.

Play is scheduled to resume at 10:00 local time on Sunday.

The opening Test between Australia and New Zealand starts in Perth on December 12.

Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme will travel to Australia with the New Zealand squad after making "good progress" following their injuries.

Boult and De Grandhomme missed the drawn second Test against England due to rib and abdominal injuries respectively.

However, the pair will fly to Perth – where the first Test against Australia begins on Thursday – with the rest of the Black Caps squad, it was confirmed.

"Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme are both making good progress with their injuries and successfully trained today at Bay Oval," the Black Caps wrote on Twitter on Friday.

"The pair will travel with the team to Perth tomorrow."

New Zealand recorded a 1-0 series win over England and face Australia in three Tests, beginning with the clash in Perth.

Melbourne will host the Boxing Day Test before the teams meet in Sydney beginning January 3.

England assistant coach Graham Thorpe wants players to use their experience of the 1-0 Test series defeat in New Zealand to develop a harder edge.

Joe Root's side are back in action in South Africa later this month, with the first of four Tests starting on Boxing Day at Centurion.

James Anderson, Mark Wood and Jonny Bairstow are expected to return to the squad having sat out the trip to New Zealand, where a draw in Hamilton meant the tourists were unable to overturn an innings defeat in the first Test at Mount Maunganui.

Nevertheless, Thorpe acknowledges there is a bigger picture to consider when it comes to England developing their Test game under new head coach Chris Silverwood – namely the next chance to regain the Ashes in 2021-22.

"We've got to keep developing our players, no doubt about that. They have to ask themselves when they come away from a trip like this: where can I get better?" said Thorpe, as quoted by The Guardian.

"Because the big picture is that down the line, in a couple of years' time, we'll need resilient cricketers going to Australia.

"It’s down to our players to be honest and for us to be honest with them.

"If we are going to keep trying to go up that Test ladder and really compete abroad then we have to keep challenging the players along the way."

England captain Joe Root backed Jofra Archer to bounce back after the paceman struggled to have an impact in the 1-0 Test series loss to New Zealand.

Archer finished with just two wickets at an average of 104.50 as England lost the series after the second Test was drawn in Hamilton on Tuesday.

But Root backed the 24-year-old, who saw Joe Denly drop a simple chance to dismiss Kane Williamson off his bowling on day five, to respond.

"He's found out that Test cricket is hard. You sometimes don't get the rewards you deserve in Test cricket," he told Sky Sports.

"He is a fantastic talent and there's no doubt he's going to contribute to England in Test cricket.

"I expect him to bounce back quite quickly. He's a fast learner."

Williamson and Ross Taylor made unbeaten centuries at Seddon Park before the rain arrived, leading to a drawn second Test.

Root was unsurprisingly left disappointed after the series loss, saying: "It was a frustrating day.

"I thought we tried everything as a bowling group, a couple of chances didn't stick. I thought we were forcing the issue a lot of the time."

Black Caps captain Williamson praised his team after holding on for a draw on a flat pitch in the second Test.

"It was a great fighting effort over the last couple of weeks. We know how strong the England side is. To lose both tosses but to keep showing that fight was really pleasing to see," he said.

"The first match for us was a fantastic victory. To come here and back it up with another strong performance was really pleasing."

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has lodged a complaint with local police in response to the racist abuse directed at Jofra Archer during the first Test in Mount Maunganui.

NZC apologised to Archer and launched an investigation after the England paceman said a spectator shouted "disturbing" insults on the final day at Bay Oval last week.

The matter has been turned over to authorities in the North Island city of Tauranga as attempts to identify the individual continue.

"Information gathered from an inquiry which included studying CCTV footage, listening to audio, interviewing bystanders and obtaining material on social media has been incorporated in the complaint," read an NZC statement.

"While the information-gathering exercise was useful, NZC has been unable to conclusively identify the person responsible and is therefore unable to comment on public speculation regarding his personal details."

NZC chief executive David White said sufficient evidence had been gathered to warrant police involvement.

"What happened to Jofra was reprehensible and has led to a general upscaling of security around the area of racial abuse at all our international venues," he said.

"Should the person responsible ever reoffend, we believe we have enough information to link him to the Bay Oval incident."

White said NZC would seek to impose a "lengthy" ban from all international venues in New Zealand if police inquiries ended in a conclusive identification.

England lost the match by an innings and 65 runs and were consigned to a series defeat on Tuesday as a rain-affected second Test ended in a draw.

Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor scored centuries before the rain arrived as the second Test between New Zealand and England was drawn on Tuesday.

Williamson (104) and Taylor (105) were unbeaten when the weather stopped play in the second session on day five at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

The pair had put on 213 for the third wicket as the Black Caps got to 241-2 – a lead of 140 runs.

England had their chances – Joe Denly dropped a simple catch in the opening session – but fell to a 1-0 series defeat.

The flat Seddon Park pitch continued to offer little, but England did themselves no favours in their bid for an unlikely victory to begin day five.

Williamson was dropped on 39, Ollie Pope unable to hold onto a regulation catch down leg side off Ben Stokes (0-58).

Denly then put down an even easier chance when the New Zealand captain was on 62.

Jofra Archer (0-27) was already celebrating as Williamson poked a soft shot to Denly at midwicket, but the simple chance was dropped.

That was as close as England got to a wicket as Williamson reached his 21st Test century and Taylor his 19th after back-to-back sixes.

Taylor also went past 7,000 Test runs, becoming the second New Zealander – after Stephen Fleming – to reach the milestone.

Cameron Bancroft has been dropped by Australia in what is otherwise a settled Test squad to face New Zealand.

Australia recorded innings wins in both Tests against Pakistan and opted to name a 13-man squad for their three meetings with the Black Caps.

Bancroft has struggled in the Sheffield Shield and his omission was the only change to the squad named to face Pakistan.

"As we said prior to the Pakistan series we are striving to maintain a core group of players. The performance of the team against Pakistan was very impressive across all areas, while there is always some room to improve," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement on Tuesday.

"David Warner has been in exceptional form with the bat. The support he received from Joe Burns in Brisbane and Marnus Labuschagne in Adelaide was exactly what we had been asking for from the top order. They delivered, setting up both matches in what was an outstanding all-round performance.

"We are backing the current batting line-up to continue their form across the next three Tests. Whilst not a part of this squad, Cameron Bancroft remains one of the standby players. Similarly, depending on conditions, we reserve the right to add a player to the squad at any time during the series.

"Michael Neser and James Pattinson will continue as cover for Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood through the series. Michael will play for Queensland against New South Wales in the Marsh Sheffield Shield game at the SCG, as James did last week for Victoria."

The first Test between Australia and New Zealand will begin in Perth on December 12 before matches in Melbourne and Sydney.

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

Joe Root believes England can win the second Test against New Zealand if they can get on a "wicket train" early on the final day.

England captain Root reached 226 on day four – his first overseas double century and his longest innings at 10 hours, 36 minutes – at Seddon Park before falling to Mitchell Santner as the tourists lost their last five wickets for 21 runs.

New Zealand saw Jeet Raval fall to a second-ball duck and Tom Latham dismissed for 18 in the final session, but Kane Williamson (37 not out) and Ross Taylor (31no) guided the Black Caps to stumps.

A draw appears to be the most likely result as rain is forecast for much of Tuesday, but Root thinks England have a shot at securing a 1-1 series draw if they can get Williamson and Taylor out quickly.

"If we can make an early breakthrough, it could get us on a bit of a wicket train, because they're such key figures in their batting line-up," said Root.

"They've got huge amounts of experience and are class players, so it would give our guys a lot of confidence for sure.

"They're two experienced players who you expect a bit of rearguard from – they know how to play in those situations, and on a good surface you expect a bit of a fightback from the number two side in the world."

He added: "I wanted to try to get us in a position where we could force a result in this game. A good couple of wickets tonight, it would have been nice to get a couple more.

"But I still feel it we can sneak a couple tomorrow morning first thing – I know there's a bit of weather around but you just never know. There will be one big last push from everyone to try and come away with a levelled-up series.

"We'd have taken this position at the start of the day."

Neil Wagner sparked the decimation of England's tail by removing Ollie Pope and he went on to claim his fourth five-wicket haul in as many Tests, but the left-armer was modest when assessing his performance.

"I was a bit lucky to get the rewards. All the other bowlers bowled well, too, and grafted away," said Wagner.

"It just sort of came my way and I ended up getting a couple of wickets which is quite nice and pleasing and satisfying.

"But all the bowlers bowled well with not a lot of luck and reward. We hunt as a pack and bowl really well in partnerships and I was lucky it came my way."

England remain a chance of winning the second Test against New Zealand after Joe Root scored a double century on Monday.

Root (226) continued to star on day four at Seddon Park, where Ollie Pope (75) also helped England to 476 – a first-innings lead of 101.

While the tourists, who trail the two-Test series 1-0, scored slowly, they moved into a lead and then struck twice before stumps.

Sam Curran (1-26) and Chris Woakes (1-8) removed Jeet Raval (0) and Tom Latham (18) respectively to give England hope of an unlikely victory.

Curran trapped Raval lbw, the opener opting not to review despite appearing to get an inside edge.

The Black Caps fell to 28-2 when Latham edged Woakes to Root at slip, but Kane Williamson (37) and Ross Taylor (31) were unbeaten at the close of play as they steadied the hosts, reaching 96-2 – still trailing by five runs.

Earlier, Root and Pope combined for a 193-run sixth-wicket partnership to boost England.

New Zealand struggled to create many chances as England edged into a lead prior to lunch before Root reached his third Test double century.

The tourists looked to lift their run rate but the lower-order were unable to contribute much of note as Neil Wagner (5-124) took a ninth Test five-for.

Woakes and Stuart Broad went for ducks, while Curran (11 not out) and Jofra Archer (8) made small contributions.

But the two late wickets have given England hope, although rain is expected in Hamilton on Tuesday.

Outgoing All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed he had accepted a role with Japanese side Toyota Verblitz.

Hansen, 60, announced late last year he would step down as All Blacks boss after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

In their bid for a third straight World Cup success, New Zealand claimed third place at the tournament in Japan.

Hansen has now accepted a consulting and mentoring job with Top League team Toyota Verblitz.

"I have a new job, which involves me mentoring and consulting and advising at Toyota Verblitz in Japan," he told All Blacks TV on Monday.

"The reason I couldn't say before was because there wasn't a contract signed, but since the World Cup we've signed one.

"It's an interesting role. It's not one as head coach, it's more as an adviser, mentor and requires me to be up there somewhere between five to 17 weeks a year and the key thing is obviously to go in and work with the people who are in the environment."

Hansen, who led the All Blacks to success at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, said he was looking forward to mentoring Verblitz head coach Simon Cron.

"Head coach is Simon Cron, who I know well and have a lot of time for, I think he's going to be a very good coach and having the opportunity to help him grow is something that really excites me," he said.

"Whilst we're obviously wanting a winning Toyota Verblitz team, we also want an environment at the club that people can be proud of, that is very much like a family, all the things really that we've had in the All Blacks because I see that as what's normal in any rugby team so if I can help in any way in trying to create that then that'll be important too.

"So, whilst it's not a full-time coaching role, it is a role that allows me to stay in the game, it's also a role that allows me to have the family time that I want to have and I'm really looking forward to it and excited by it."

Rory Burns hailed a "beautiful" performance from Joe Root and was happy to get his own tempo right as both struck hundreds for England on day three of the second Test with New Zealand.

Burns hit only his second Test century as England fought back at Hamilton, while captain Root ended a long wait with his first ton in the five-day game since February.

Root's 17th Test hundred will ease the pressure on the under-pressure skipper, who has consistently faced questions over whether the burden of the captaincy was affecting his form.

He stood unbeaten on 114 but Burns was run out on 101, with England going on to lose the wickets of Ben Stokes and Zak Crawley before the close, leaving them on 269-5 in reply to New Zealand's 375.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Burns said of Root: "He played beautifully, to get himself back to where he wants to be, good Test match hundred and he's still in and still fighting away and hopefully he's going to make it a massive one.

"From a personal point I feel like I got my tempo right and managed to cash in."

On the run-out, when he was pushing for a second run, Burns added: "I thought I was just about there. I thought I had enough in the tank but didn't quite. That's disappointing to miss out in that way, it could have been a real big one."

England's prospects of winning the match and saving the two-game series appear to be slim, with the tourists facing the likelihood of needing to bat well into day four to gain a lead with which they could declare and then attempt to claim an innings victory.

Burns, however, remained hopeful, saying: "There's still a fair bit of batting there, it's about getting as far ahead of them as we can now and see what we can enforce."

An unbeaten century from Joe Root helped England stay in the second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton on Sunday.

Root (114 not out) guided England to 269-5 in response to the Black Caps' 375 at stumps on day three at Seddon Park.

The England captain scored his first Test century since February to give the tourists hope of salvaging a drawn series.

Rory Burns (101) also made a century after England had resumed in a precarious position at 39-2.

Burns and Root controlled the first session, although the latter needed a review when given out caught behind on 47, a delivery from debutant Daryl Mitchell (0-28) having hit his pad, not bat.

Burns was dropped on 10 on Saturday and he survived again on 86, Matt Henry (1-56) squandering a great run-out chance as the difficult day continued for New Zealand.

The England opener would reach his second Test ton before being run out thanks to excellent fielding by Jeet Raval.

England had battled through the second session as Ben Stokes (26) joined Root before the all-rounder edged Tim Southee (2-63) to Ross Taylor at slip.

Much to his relief, Root got to his 17th Test century thanks to an under-edge that went for four.

Zak Crawley, making his Test debut for England, only lasted six balls before edging behind to BJ Watling off Neil Wagner (1-76).

Rain meant the day was cut short with England back in the Test and hoping Root and Ollie Pope (4) can push them into a first-innings lead on Monday.

New Zealand's score of 375 in the second and final Test was arguably "300 under par", according to England bowler Stuart Broad.

England endured a tough day in the field at Hamilton's Seddon Park as a sixth-wicket partnership of 124 between BJ Watling and Daryl Mitchell frustrated them after two wickets fell in the morning session.

Broad finally ended their stand, removing each batsman within the space of four overs, though New Zealand's tail wagged and cameos from Mitchell Santner (23) and Tim Southee (18) added valuable runs.

New Zealand's hopes of clinching the two-match series 2-0 were furthered when England lost Dom Sibley and Joe Denly cheaply in their 18 overs before the close. Rory Burns and Joe Root reached stumps with England 39-2.

The Black Caps won the first Test by an innings and 65 runs on the back of a score of 615-9, and Broad believes their failure to do the same again on a batting-friendly surface means England are in a decent position.

"We won the toss and bowled – not to bowl New Zealand out for 150, we were aiming [to dismiss them] for 330-350 and then bat big once to try and win the game," said Broad.

"We thought our best chance to take 20 wickets in five days was by bowling first.

"These pitches, you've got to change your mindset a little bit. If you win the toss and bowl in England and concede 370 you'd be distraught, but here the opportunity is to bat big and bat big once.

"For us to win this game, we'll need a batter to get 150 plus, and someone else to get 100, and leave ourselves a day to bowl them out on day five. That's how New Zealand won the last test they played [in Hamilton], when they got [715]-6. So arguably, they're 300 under par.

"When you come away from home you look at what the opposition do in their home conditions – and New Zealand bowl. It's pretty rare that they win the toss and bat.

"It will be proven if it was a good decision tomorrow [Sunday] really – if we bat through the whole of tomorrow and go past New Zealand, we can apply some pressure on them in the second innings. If we don't go and get 400, we can't.

"I think our opportunity is there tomorrow. There's not a huge amount of pressure, there's not a lot happening in the pitch, there's not a big scoreboard pressure – there's a chance for a couple of people to get hundreds tomorrow.

"We need someone to go and get a big hundred for us to win this game – and we've got the players to do it."

England were left in trouble after losing a pair of wickets late on day two of the second Test against New Zealand on Saturday.

The Black Caps were bowled out for 375 in their first innings after something of a collapse at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

Debutant Daryl Mitchell (73) and BJ Watling (55) guided New Zealand after Tom Latham's century, but the hosts – who lead the two-Test series 1-0 – lost their final five wickets for just 60.

Stuart Broad (4-73) was the pick of the bowlers but, just as England seemed boosted by that strong finish, the Black Caps hit back.

Dom Sibley (4) and Joe Denly (4) fell before stumps, leaving England at 39-2 and still trailing by 336 runs with Rory Burns (24) and Joe Root (6) unbeaten.

Sibley had been hit in the helmet by Tim Southee (1-24) before falling to the paceman, who trapped him lbw.

Burns was given a life on 10 as Ross Taylor put down a catch at first slip off Matt Henry.

But New Zealand would strike again, Watling diving low to his right to remove Denly off Henry (1-10) to cap a fine day for the hosts.

Earlier, England had made a fine start to day two as Latham (105) and Henry Nicholls (16) – the overnight batsmen – departed early.

But Mitchell and Watling led the response for New Zealand, putting together a 124-run partnership as they frustrated the tourists.

The Black Caps scored just 67 runs during the second session, although the departure of Watling – removed by a great Broad bouncer – just before tea triggered a collapse of sorts.

England managed to contain New Zealand to 375, but the fall of Sibley and Denly has left them on the back foot.

Chris Woakes fears England may not be able to call upon Ben Stokes to bowl in the remainder of the second Test against New Zealand but hopes to have the "world class" all-rounder at "full tilt".

Stokes complained of an issue with his left knee, on which he had surgery in 2016 and has continued to be troubled by, after completing his second over in Hamilton on day one.

Tom Latham was unbeaten on 101 and the Black Caps – who lead the two-Test series 1-0 – were 173-3 when rain brought an early end to play after tea.

Stokes will reportedly undergo an assessment to determine whether he will be fit to bowl again in the match.

"Ben's overs are not just a bonus, he's a world-class bowler when he's at his best. Of course we'll move his overs, whether he can bowl or not I don't know," said the recalled Woakes, who claimed the big scalps of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.

"He's obviously got a bit of pain in that left knee, I don't know exactly what it is but of course we want a Ben Stokes at full tilt if we can because he's world class.

"Ben is one of the hardest trainers and works hard on his fitness and everything. Hopefully we can get that right. The medical team will be working really hard to do that.

"There's a bit of a gap between the end of this Test match and the start of the South Africa one so hopefully [they can] get him as close to 100 per cent as possible."

Latham made the most of a reprieve on 66, having been put down by a diving Stokes in the slips, to register a fifth hundred in his past 10 Test innings.

"Ben, in particular, is probably the hardest trainer I've ever seen, particularly when it comes to his fielding and his catching," Woakes said.

"It's just the way it goes. Unfortunately we've put a couple down and it's hurt us, hopefully this one won't hurt us quite as badly as the last one did."

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