Australia have historically been one of the top teams in Test cricket, particularly during the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.
The side has been in a period of transition since the retirements of Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Co, but after a great deal of hard work and patience, the fresh new team have regained their place at the helm of the sport.
Ruined the party
With New Zealand star Brendan McCullum stepping out to play his final game for the Kiwis, the stage was set for a New Zealand masterclass as they looked to level the two match series. The party was in full swing when McCullum hit the fastest ever Test century off 54 balls but it was not enough to prevent a spirited young Australian side from composing themselves to win the match by seven wickets, lifting them to the top of the Test rankings.
In a year that has seen Steve Smith's team rise to the top of the One Day International rankings, it seems that the Australian production system has done it's job. Though the sporting world is fully aware that talented teams can reach the number one spot, but it takes real quality to stay there. The Aussies will need all that ability to cement their position, with just six points separating a top four that also includes India, South Africa and Pakistan.
The right formula?
Australia will begin to feel they have found the right formula in test cricket. Against New Zealand, the opening partnership was a mixture of youth and experience as the talented all-rounder David Warner was joined by Joe Burns who scored a patient 170 to show his expertise in the first innings of the second test.
Backed up by arguably the best middle order in the world, Australia's batting line-up is a force to be reckoned with. Captain Steve Smith now has 16 test match half centuries to his name and is ranked as the best test match batsman in the world, whilst Adam Voges has an average that almost matches the great Sir Don Bradman. Usman Khawaja has shown he is capable of playing excellent test match innings' alongside his inept talent for the shortened version of the game as he showed in the Big Bash this year. Mitchell Marsh and wicketkeeper Peter Nevill also possess plenty of ability batting at number six and seven respectively.
Even if the opposition somehow manages to keep Australia's batting total to a minimum, their batters will find there is no easy ride against the bowling attack. With the likes of Josh Hazelwood, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle all ranking in the top 15 test bowlers, Australia possibly have the best bowling attack around when everyone is fit. With Mitchell Marsh capable of taking wickets and the exciting talents of James Pattinson and Jackson Bird, who took five wickets in the second innings of the second test against New Zealand, Australia have plenty of capable players to choose from. The fact that both David Warner and Steve Smith rarely bowl in test cricket shows just how great this team is at this present moment.