New Zealand's great chance to defy history in Australia

New Zealand celebrate the matchwinning wicket of Stuart Broad AFP

Part one of New Zealand's mission to secure a lasting legacy for this group of Test players has been achieved with victory over England. It may not have had Championship points attached but the 1-0 result maintained an impressive home record. That will be tested again when India visit in February, but now comes arguably the toughest part of the triumvirate of series this season.

New Zealand arrive in Australia as the higher ranked side - second against Australia's fifth - and quite rightly billed as the headline act of the season as for the first time since 1987-88 they have been granted the Boxing Day and New Year Tests. However, for all that there will be a mountain of goodwill behind them from home support (and neutrals), they will have to defy history. Their Test record against Australia reads eight wins in 57 Tests and just three of those in their backyard.

Two of the wins in this country came in the Richard Hadlee-inspired 1985-86 triumph and the other, by just seven runs, in Hobart in 2011 when David Warner, playing just his second Test, was left stranded on 123. They came within a dodgy lbw decision of winning their previous Boxing Day Test 32 years ago, came close to snatching the 2001-02 series and pushed Australia hard in the inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide in 2015, but there have been some hefty defeats along the way.

While close neighbours, New Zealand have come as far as they could to start this series in Perth and will have to contend with only training sessions ahead of a day-night Test. The game regularly talks about how touring sides struggle; there could not be a clearer example of why than this. The slow, low pitch of Seddon Park to the (expected) pace and carry of Perth Stadium, plus the time difference which will have them starting a Test day at 6pm New Zealand with five days to adjust the body clocks and temperatures forecast to be in the 40Cs.

However, the WACA was the scene of their series-clinching victory in 1985-86, their near-miss in 2001 and four years ago, Ross Taylor scored 290 in a high-scoring draw. So, perhaps, it could have been worse (at least it's not the Gabba).

If the New Zealand team of now was playing Australia of a year ago they may have been termed favourites. They should still arrive with confidence and belief, but they come with the home side re-establishing beast-mode on home soil, although New Zealand should not repeat the basic errors that afflicted Pakistan. The key for them will be staying in the game because Australia are fantastic front-runners. Barring the opening session of the series against Pakistan, Australia were never behind the game (and 0 for 57 at lunch hardly represented a crisis). Whether with bat or ball, New Zealand must keep the home side in their sights in the early days of the series.

Three Tests gives a chance to come back if things do go wrong in Perth but they can ill-afford an early chasm opening up. That's what happened on the previous tour in 2015-16 when a side that had shown promising signs - although not the consistency and battle-hardened qualities of this team - watched Australia pile up 2 for 389 on the first day in Brisbane. Tim Southee and Trent Boult were part of the attack that day (Neil Wagner did not make the XI during the tour) and what they are able to do with the pink ball in Perth, especially if they can get it under the lights, will be vital. You suspect it wouldn't have made a difference, but in Adelaide last week Australia did not have to face a new ball in the evening: the first day ended at 73 overs.

While pace is not everything, it is a lot in Australia, so the time may be right to throw Lockie Ferguson into the Test arena after he was withheld from some back-breaking work on the slow pitches of the England series. How they get him in the side is another question - Southee, who averages 50 with the ball in Australia, could be vulnerable unless New Zealand are brave and leave out an allrounder.

With the bat New Zealand are much more than just Kane Williamson - Henry Nicholls is in the top ten of the rankings and Tom Latham sits at 11 - but he remains the talisman. His head-to-head with Steven Smith, two of this eras premier batsmen, will hopefully be compelling for the runs scored and also the contrasting ways they are made. Around Williamson they is plenty of solidity - with only Jeet Raval's form a significant concern - but Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will examine the very best.

Except for the centuries of Babar Azam and Yasir Shah, this has been a very one-sided Australian season so far with the five T20Is and two Tests never being in doubt. Even after all the trials and tribulations that the game in this country went through last season this summer needs more than Australia steam-rolling their way to victories. Whether New Zealand can go against history is one thing, but it's over to them to live up to their billing.