Blackcaps v Australia: Coach Andrew McDonald wary of New Zealand's new T20 stars

Australia are wary of the unfamiliar faces likely to be included in the Blackcaps squad for their five-match T20 series.

The Aussies have arrived in New Zealand a little under-strength, without test stars Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, but still boasting serious X-factor talent.

International veterans Aaron Smith, Mitch Marsh, Glen Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis will join exciting prospects Josh Phillippe, Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith, the quickest bowler in Australian domestic cricket.

But fill-in coach Andrew McDonald has pinpointed the unfamiliar names in the Blackcaps squad for extra research.

Glenn Phillips scored a fifty on test debut in Sydney two years ago - his only international against Australia - while Kyle Jamieson, Devon Conway and Tim Seifert have yet to line up in a trans-Tasman clash. 

"They [NZ] have really added to their T20 depth and those guys we haven't seen a lot of will create a few preparation issues for us," McDonald says.

"They have unearthed some serious talent in recent seasons - [Glenn] Phillips, [Tim] Seifert and Devon Conway are all quality players.

"In white-ball cricket, they have some really good competing skill sets, they are well led by Kane Wlliamson and they are a reasonably settled T20 side.

Glenn Phillips & Devon Conway in action for the Blackcaps
Glenn Phillips & Devon Conway in action for the Blackcaps. Photo credit: Getty

"They are a smart team and there is no doubt that we have our work cut out for us. They are an incredibly tough team to beat on their own turf."

McDonald believes the Blackcaps are a team full of confidence, after sweeping the world champion West Indies and winning a series against Pakistan in the short format. 

The former Australian international goes as far as labelling this Blackcaps programme "the best in New Zealand cricket" history, as shown by their rise to the No.1 test side in the world, and spots in world one-day and test finals. 

"If you look at their success, it's been underpinned by a quality red-ball bowling attack," he says. "That attack will probably go down as New Zealand's best ever in test match cricket.

"This is hands down the best period in New Zealand cricket history and some of these players in this side will go down as some of the greats in the game, so they will be very tough to play against."

McDonald is substituting for regular coach Justin Langer, who has a few months off, after the cancellation of the test series in South Africa.

The controversial decision to withdraw form the three tests against the Proteas could cost Australia a spot in the World Test Championship final at Lord's in July.

New Zealand have already booked their spot, awaiting the result of the India v England series to determine their opponents.

If that series is drawn, Australia can still make the final and McDonald admits he is keeping a close eye on proceedings, hoping results go their way.

"We are watching the TV a lot more than we would have in a usual India v England series and we are really looking forward to a drawn series at the end, so we can sneak through.

"Full credit to New Zealand - they are in the box seat through some quality cricket over a long period of time. We had a poor series against India and left the door ajar. 

"If we had won one more test match, we would be in a good position and not relying on other results to go our way."

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