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Australia find Test form, switch to ODIs

AAP logoAAP 28/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Australia's Test side have found form, now their stars must try to hold it during a one-day series before donning the whites again to face Pakistan.

Cricket's bloated schedule will be a hot topic of debate over the next fortnight when Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc Josh Hazlewood and Matthew Wade take part in a three-match ODI series against New Zealand.

There will be no context to the ODIs in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne - the first of which is at the SCG on Sunday.

There is a risk the change in format could rob Australia of momentum or possibly muddle the minds of some players before the first Test against Pakistan, which starts in Brisbane on December 15.

The ODIs will also force the likes of Smith and Warner to miss a day-night Sheffield Shield round, which would have been ideal preparation for their pink-ball clash with Pakistan at the Gabba.

"It's red ball, pink ball, white ball, pink ball then red ball," coach Darren Lehmann said.

"It's just the way it is. Can't complain about it, just get on with it.

"Can't do anything about it."

In this instance, Cricket Australia (CA) could have done something about it.

CA boss James Sutherland has declared this summer he wants the national side to be playing less cricket.

But Sutherland last year signed off on an agreement with New Zealand Cricket, which coincided with the deal for the inaugural day-night Test, to reinstate a regular Chappell-Hadlee series.

There is obvious commercial upside to the trans-Tasman tussles but also an inherent cost.

Usman Khawaja, who will return to captain Queensland after being overlooked in the 14-man ODI squad, aired players' concerns about the calender last month.

On that occasion Khawaja was talking about a one-day tour of South Africa in early October, which served as sub-optimal preparation for a three-Test series against the Proteas.

But the words of Khawaja, who was man of the match in Australia's seven-wicket win over South Africa at Adelaide Oval, also ring true about the upcoming series.

"I'm not convinced about the timing (of that one-day tour) ... it was a random time," Khawaja said.

"I found it really bizarre that we played that one-day series before a big Test series. That's how international cricket is going these days. There is no break."

International Cricket Council boss David Richardson admitted in Adelaide last week it was an issue his organisation needed to improve.

"We'd rather have less cricket, better quality and more context," Richardson said.

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