December 30, 2019 / 5:21 AM / a month ago

Australia focussed on New Zealand whitewash

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia will look to use the disappointment of their late Ashes fade-out in England to push for a series whitewash of New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Ashes 2019 - Fifth Test - England v Australia - Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 15, 2019 Australia's Tim Paine with the Ashes urn after drawing the series to retain the Ashes Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Tim Paine’s men took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series against the Black Caps on Sunday with a 247-run win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Australia have now notched four successive test wins in a perfect home summer but still hold rueful memories of their last match in England.

Having retained the urn with victory in the fourth test at Old Trafford, Australia lost at The Oval to head home with a 2-2 draw and some regrets.

“We’ve probably got to learn a little bit from what happened in the Ashes,” Paine told reporters.

“I thought when we won the fourth test it was such an emotional high.

“With the fast turnaround, guys were just a little bit flat mentally, I guess, a bit drained from having such a big high.

“So we’ll try to keep it nice and level over the next few days. Rest up and hit that fifth test of the summer with as much energy as we hit the first test at the Gabba,” Paine said, referring to the Brisbane Cricket Ground.

In contrast to New Zealand, Australia head to Sydney with the kind of headaches that selectors like to have.

Selectors have brought in legspinner Mitchell Swepson into the squad to provide another slow bowling option in addition to incumbent Nathan Lyon for the nation’s most spin-friendly pitch.

Finding a player to make way for Swepson could be a challenge.

Australia’s fast bowlers were outstanding at the MCG, with James Pattinson slotting in with aplomb to deliver six wickets, including a fiery three-wicket burst in nine deliveries to hasten the Black Caps’ defeat on Sunday morning.

With no pace bowling all-rounder in the squad, Australia may be reluctant to break up the trio of Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to allow for dual spinners.

Shane Warne offered the novel solution of dropping Lyon to give the uncapped Swepson a chance to shine, a suggestion given short shrift by the man who would be displaced.

“Did Warney ever want a rest and give Stuart MacGill a go?” said Lyon, referring to the former Australia legspinner who was a reluctant second fiddle to Warne.

“I won’t be rested.”

Lyon, however, welcomed the prospect of bowling in tandem with 26-year-old Swepson, after having chats with him in Melbourne.

“I hadn’t seen him bowl for a while, but he seems really clear on his plans.

“What’s worked has obviously got him here so if he gets his opportunity I just said (to him): ‘Stay strong to yourself and back yourself’.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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