THE Australian cricket team may officially be "in transition", but former captain Steve Waugh said he was confident there was enough talent in the mix of youth and experience to perform strongly against a quality New Zealand side in the Test series that starts today at the Gabba.
Much has been made of the loss of former skipper Michael Clarke, his deputy Brad Haddin, fast bowler Ryan Harris, dogged opening batsman Chris Rogers and all-rounder Shane Watson, but Waugh said there was still plenty of ability in the line-up, to be led by new captain Steve Smith.
"We've got some very good players in Smith, we've got Dave Warner, Nathan Lyon ... Mitchell Johnson. We've still got experience and some good, exciting young players," he told APN.
"We just need to give those guys a bit of time to bed down their spots in the team."
Opener Joe Burns and No.3 Usman Khawaja have been given first crack at the Black Caps, while all-rounder Mitch Marsh, wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and middle-order batsman Adam Voges will be out to consolidate their places in the side.
Waugh backed Khawaja to grab his second chance with both hands, but also said New South Wales opener Nic Maddinson was waiting in the wings.
"I think Usman Khawaja will do very well, he's ready for that opportunity," the former captain said.
"And someone outside the current group? I think Nic Maddinson.
"If he scores some Shield runs he'll be playing for Australia pretty quickly because he's a pretty special talent."
Waugh also said New Zealand, which hasn't lost in its past seven Test series, would provide stiff opposition.
"They're a good side: Trent Boult is a world-class bowler, (Kane) Williamson is a world-class batsman, (Brendon) McCullum is a great captain," he said.
"And they've got confidence and did well in the World Cup, so they will fancy their chances."
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