“At this stage, they are hitting all their markers in terms of their rehab program. Seeing what they have done so far has been quite good.”
Paceman Matt Henry played the second Test in Boult’s absence but the Black Caps may opt for the uncapped Lockie Ferguson to join Neil Wagner and Tim Southee on what is expected to be a Perth pitch offering pace and bounce. Ferguson’s speed troubled the Australians when the two nations met in a World Cup match at Lord’s this year, the Auckland product dismissing David Warner and Steve Smith.
De Grandhomme provides the Black Caps with balance, averaging 40.33 with the bat and 29.63 with the ball in 19 Tests. His spot in the Hamilton Test was taken by debutant Daryl Mitchell, who made 73 but was wicketless.
Jurgensen, the former Australian first-class cricketer, said the Caps expected a deck “very similar to the old WACA in terms of its bounce”. The new stadium provided that last year when Australia enjoyed a memorable win over India but the pitch, oddly, was officially rated only average by match referee Ranjan Madugalle. This bewildered several observers, including former Test quick Mitchell Johnson and former England captain Michael Vaughan.
The Black Caps have only three wins in 31 Tests in Australia, and have not won a series here since 1985-86. They were beaten 2-0 in 2015-16 when last here but have since risen to No.2 on the Test rankings, boasting a strong batting line-up led by skipper Kane Williamson and a stable attack that has relied on only five frontline bowlers in the past six years.
“We have quite an experienced group there compared to maybe four years ago when the team visited the shores for a previous Test series,” Jurgensen said.
“There is a reason why the guys have been playing good cricket and doing a great job as they are. Not necessarily pace is the only thing – against Australia you have got to be, as a bowling group, as a cricketing team, extremely disciplined. That’s probably going to be one of our focuses there – is to be as stable as we can, stay calm and as disciplined as we can.”
The Australians also arrived in Perth on Saturday, with vice-captain Travis Head, who didn’t have a bat or bowl against Pakistan in Adelaide because of Australia’s dominance, declaring he was ready to have an impact. Head made 24 against Pakistan at the Gabba and hopes to have a greater influence against the Black Caps – if the situation permits.
“Not getting a hit was a bit disappointing I guess, after not getting much of a hit in Brisbane, I felt I was ready to go, the wicket looked outstanding … I need to make sure I hang around for another 12 months and get another home Test,” he said.