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Aussies still cricket standard-bearers: NZ

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6 days ago Steve Zemek
New Zealand batsman Tom Latham. © yarthur / ASSOCIATED PRESS New Zealand batsman Tom Latham.

New Zealand have warned anyone predicting the decline of Australia's one-day side is short-sighted, as they look to hold onto the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

While the Aussies slumped to their lowest ebb in years with a one-day series whitewash loss to South Africa two months ago, Black Caps opener Tom Latham says things aren't as bad as they seem for the world No.1.

Although the embarrassing loss was Australia's first 5-0 defeat in a bilateral series, Latham and his teammates still see their trans-Tasman neighbours as the biggest scalp in cricket.

"They're No.1 in the world and that's pretty hard to go past," Latham said.

"They'll be coming out hard and trying to get the trophy off us. It's an exciting challenge and everyone's looking forward to it."

Latham predicts Darren Lehmann's side will be a completely different prospect to the one that faced the Proteas in September, with pacemen Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins back in action.

"They're a key part to their line up and to have them back will add a bit of pace and experience as well, Latham said.

"I'm sure they'll be looking to them to take a bit of pressure off."

The Kiwis look set to unleash their own pace tearaway in Lockie Ferguson, who could debut in Sunday's series opener at the SCG.

Like the Australian pace attack, the 25-year-old has been hindered by persistent injury problems throughout his career and is yet to make his first international appearance in any form.

Given he is capable of bowling at 150km/h and has taken 35 wickets in his past seven first-class matches, the Kiwis are hoping they've found a new strike weapon.

"I did face a little bit of him in the nets before and he was getting them down pretty quickly," Latham said.

"I'm sure if he gets the opportunity to have a run then we'll unleash him and he does bowl that little bit quicker and it's nice to have him on the team.

"He's been playing really well in domestic cricket back home so he deserves his opportunity."

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