Aussies seek confidence boost in New Zealand

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:Australia is looking to regain World Cup confidence in the Chappell-Hadlee series against New Zealand after a shock loss to England in the triangular series, stand-in captain Mike Hussey said.

Hussey is leading the Australians for the three matches starting in Wellington on Friday after captain Ricky Ponting and vice-captain Adam Gilchrist were rested ahead of next month's World Cup in the Caribbean.

"I just want us to focus on playing well in this Chappell-Hadlee series and we're looking to win the series," Hussey told reporters before the team left Melbourne on Wednesday.

"We don't want to focus on the World Cup and look too far ahead like that.

"The team is excited, we've had a huge summer here in Australia but we're looking forward to getting away and playing some good cricket.

"Trying to change the momentum a little bit and get our confidence back a little bit, but I'm sure we'll put in an excellent showing over there."

With Ponting and Gilchrist absent and Michael Clarke nursing a hip injury, only opener Matthew Hayden is a certainty out of Australia's first-choice top-four batsmen, but high-scoring Hussey is renowned for his versatility.

He played at No.6 throughout the recent tri-series against England and New Zealand, but said team balance would dictate where he slotted into the order.

"As captain you've got the luxury of getting to choose where you would like to bat," he said.

"I'll sit down with (coach John Buchanan) and we'll try to work out what the best balance for the team is and then I'll fit in there.

"If my role is best for the team coming in and playing that finishing role then that's what I'll do.

"If the team thinks I need to go up the order and try and bolster the middle-order in that way, or the team thinks I need to open the batting, then I'll do whatever is best for the team."

Hussey, who averages 68.65 in one-day internationals, says he is in good shape despite two failures in the tri-series finals against England when he fell to Andrew Flintoff for 17 and 0.

"I still think I'm hitting the ball well in the nets but obviously my results haven't been as I would have liked in the last couple of games.

"That's the game of cricket, you always have your ups and downs. I'm sure if I stick to my plans and my game plans I can still be successful and consistent for Australia for a while yet."

If Clarke fails to overcome his hip complaint, he will be replaced in the squad by NSW opener Phil Jaques, who is on standby.


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