Trent Boult is confident he will be able to take his place in the Boxing Day Test and the dream not afford to New Zealand for more than 30 years.
Boult missed the opening Test in Perth having not recovered sufficiently from the side strain he picked up against England – a call he made himself to admit he wasn’t ready – but is increasing his workload as the squad prepares in Melbourne.
They have a two-day game against a Victoria XI later this week where Boult hopes to get three or four spells under his belt with the slightly longer break between the first two Tests working in his favour.
“It’s about being confident with the overs under my belt and having enough behind me,” he said. “Feel like I’m in that place and ticking the right boxes. It’s a day-by-day thing, it’s about getting through each session. As I’m tracking right now, touch wood it keeps going that way. I’m very eager to get out there.
“It’s nice to have seven or eight days. I’ll be using it the best I can. It will be nice to get some cricket but guess they’ll make a call as late as they can.”
New Zealand have not played a Boxing Day Test since the 1987-88 tour when they came within one wicket of levelling the series only to be denied by a dodgy umpiring decision and Mike Whitney. Boult has only played twice at the MCG, once in the 2015 World Cup final and another ODI in 2016, but wants to use the significance of the occasion, which is expected to see an influx of New Zealand support, as motivation.
“I don’t really want to ignore it, I want to embrace it, appreciate that stage for what it is,” he said. “Test cricket is my favourite format and this is a stage a lot of people dream of being on so to get this opportunity in my career is definitely something I’m looking forward to. If I can tick all the right boxes with my body, I can’t wait.”
Boult is likely to be a straight swap in the XI for the injured Lockie Ferguson whose tour was ended by the calf strain he picked up on the opening day in Perth. The uncapped Kyle Jamieson has been called up and joins Matt Henry as the reserve pacemen.
Neil Wagner and Tim Southee put in a huge shift during the opening Test after Ferguson’s injury, bowling 60 and 51.3 overs respectively, taking 16 of the 19 Australia wicket to fall.
Jeet Raval is facing the axe after two failures in Perth to continue his poor run of form which would mean a recall for Tom Blundell and a potential reshuffle of the batting. Mitchell Santner’s position may also come under scrutiny after he went wicketless through 41 overs and struggled to tie down Australia’s batsmen.