Travis Head says Australia's players "have every confidence in our officials" with the third Test against New Zealand set to go ahead despite the ongoing bush fires sweeping the country.

The blazes across New South Wales and Victoria have claimed 12 lives so far, with thousands of people having to move to coastal areas to escape the ongoing crisis inland.

It has resulted in blankets of smoke drifting across several cities which has, in turn, affected sporting venues with the Big Bash game between the Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers abandoned 10 days ago due to poor air quality.

The third Test is due to get underway at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday, but Head played down the importance of cricket at a time when people were facing such difficulties, and also backed those in charge to make the right calls.

Speaking at Sydney Airport, the South Australian told reporters: "There's a lot more concerns than just the game of cricket, I guess.

"There's a lot more people being worse affected than us. Our thoughts are with them and we'll just play the game as best we can for our health and safety. We have every confidence in our officials.

"Player safety is obviously an aspect of it but, having seen what happened in Canberra a couple of weeks ago, I'm sure the match officials will put us in the best position and we won't have to worry about it too much."

Head hit a century in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne as Australia established an unassailable 2-0 lead over the Black Caps and was pleased to have made a contribution, especially after coming in for some harsh criticism from former skipper Ricky Ponting.

He added: "It was nice to get some runs. I've had limited opportunity with the way our batters have been playing so there was a little bit of frustration over whether I'd get an opportunity to go out and get a big score, so it was nice once I got a start to do that and contribute for Australia."

In previous years, teams tended to relax after winning the series, but the new ICC Test Championship means there are points up for grabs at the SCG and Head is adamant Australia will continue to play at full throttle.

"There's a lot to play for. We've been fantastic at backing up games, something that hasn't been a strength of ours over the past couple of years – winning games after winning series – and we're on a roll at the minute, playing some wonderful cricket.

"So, hopefully, we can finish the summer really well."

Australia have added D'Arcy Short to their ODI squad for the upcoming tour of India.

The opening batsman has been drafted in as a replacement for Sean Abbott, who is expected to miss between three and four weeks with a side strain sustained during the Sydney Sixers' Big Bash League fixture against Sydney Thunder last Friday.

National Selector Trevor Hohns said: "It is extremely unfortunate for Sean who is very much a part of our white ball squad plans leading into the ICC T20 World Cup and the World Cup.

"D'Arcy offers the squad another spinning all-rounder option along with Ashton Agar, which along with the four world-class fast bowlers and Adam Zampa balances the squad out nicely. 

"His proven record and ability to bat anywhere in the order will also be a great asset to the squad."

Short has played four ODIs for Australia, the last of which came against South Africa in November 2018.

Australia will play three ODIs in India between January 14 and 19.

Nathan Lyon is in no mood to give up his Australia place and hand Mitchell Swepson a taste of Test cricket because Shane Warne would never have done likewise.

Australia took an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-match series against New Zealand by closing out a comprehensive 247-run win in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

It means there could be a temptation to look to the future in Sydney later this week, with uncapped leg-spinner Swepson part of Tim Paine's squad.

However, the lack of a seam bowling all-rounder in the party means the most viable way of putting the 26-year-old in the XI would be to rest experienced off-spinner Lyon.

Warne is among those who has urged Swepson's inclusion but Lyon shot back – invoking the Australia great's long-time rivalry with compatriot Stuart MacGill, himself an exceptional leg-spinner whose opportunities in international cricket were limited by sharing an era with one of the finest talents to grace the game.

"Did Warney ever want a rest and give Stuart MacGill a go? I won't be resting," Lyon, whose 380 Test wickets place him 18th on the all-time list, told reporters.

"I haven't met any Australian cricketers that would like to be rested.

"It's that hard playing Test cricket, but it's that rewarding as well so every opportunity you get to play cricket for Australia, it means the world to us.

"So I can't imagine Mitch Starc, Pat [Cummins] or Patto [James Pattinson] putting his hand up to say I need a rest.

'I know talking to those guys just after the game last night they're pretty pumped about coming up to Sydney and hopefully going three-nil up in the series against the number two team in the world.

"There's definitely no-one in that bowling cartel that really wants to put their hand up and say 'I want a rest'."

Nevertheless, Lyon professed himself to be a huge admirer of Swepson's talents and would relish playing in tandem with his fellow tweaker.

"Mitch has been bowling brilliantly for Queensland," the 32-year-old said.

"He's a great fella to start off with, but he gives it a rip and that's what I really love to see.

"I'm a big fan of Mitch, it's great to see him in and around our squad so he gets his chance and fingers crossed we can have a great combination together."

Lyon added: "I really enjoy bowling with another spinner.

"We get through our overs quite quickly and feel like we can build some pressure.

"If Sweppo does get his opportunity, to play alongside another leg-spinner is going to be pretty exciting but it's not up to me to make that call."

New Zealand have called up Will Somerville for the third Test against Australia after Trent Boult was ruled out through injury.

Paceman Boult, who missed the opening match due to a side strain, was ruled out of the series finale after sustaining a fracture in his right hand on day three of the second Test in Melbourne.

Somerville has made three appearances for the Black Caps in the longest format and will join the team in Sydney on Tuesday.

"There's no secret the SCG pitch is one of the more spin-friendly in Australia," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"Will offers something different to our two other spinners in the squad with his right arm off-spin and height.

"The fact he's played a lot of cricket in Sydney during his career for New South Wales will also be helpful as we prepare for this final Test."

Australia claimed a series win over New Zealand after easing to victory in the Boxing Day Test, despite a fighting display from centurion Tom Blundell.

New Zealand wilted in the Melbourne heat at the MCG, where Australia wrapped up a crushing 247-run win on day four of the second Test on Sunday.

Blundell rallied for the Black Caps, celebrating his second Test hundred in three matches with a resilient 121 runs, but he had no support from his team-mates after Nathan Lyon (4-81) and James Pattinson (3-35) starred.

Marnus Labuschagne (1-11) ended Blundell's unforgettable innings late in the evening as Australia only required nine wickets to skittle New Zealand for 240 – Trent Boult not batting due to a fractured finger.

Australia declared,168-5, 10 overs into the penultimate day – the hosts setting New Zealand a mammoth 488 for victory as temperatures soared.

Already humbled by 296 runs in Perth, the Black Caps faced an uphill battle to keep the series alive in their first Boxing Day appearance in Melbourne in 1987, and Pattinson wreaked havoc on Sunday morning.

After a lively and tenacious start by Pat Cummins (0-47), Mitchell Starc (0-59) and Australia, Pattinson made an immediate impact with the wicket of opener Tom Latham for 8.

Pattinson – back in the team as a replacement for injured quick Josh Hazlewood – flourished on his home ground, claiming another two wickets before lunch to leave New Zealand reeling on 38-3.

After trapping captain Kane Williamson for a duck – his seventh against Australia – Pattinson then removed Ross Taylor (2), who chopped onto his own stumps.

Blundell dug deep following lunch with a half-century as New Zealand showed some fight, only losing one wicket in the middle session after Henry Nicholls (33) fell to Lyon.

BJ Watling (22) and Mitchell Santner (27) were the only other players to provide support for Blundell en route to a century on another forgettable day for New Zealand.

Pat Cummins felt it "all came together" as he claimed his first five-wicket Test haul in 11 months to put Australia in an almost unassailable position against New Zealand in Melbourne.

The home side ended day three of the second Test on 137-4 in their second innings, giving them a lead of 456 over the beleaguered tourists, who had earlier been dismissed for 148.

Cummins was the Black Caps' destroyer-in-chief with 5-28 in a wonderful display of fast bowling at the MCG.

It was his first five-for since January, when he took 6-23 to guide his team to victory against Sri Lanka in Brisbane.

He said: "I was happy with how it came out today. I feel like I've been bowling well, especially the last couple of games.

"Today it felt like it all came together and fortunately, yeah, a few nicks. But to be honest, I'm not really focused too much on the past, it's more what's ahead of me."

On a day of minor milestones, Cummins' removal of Henry Nicholls for a duck was also his first lbw in his last 70 scalps – although that statistic came as a surprise to the 26-year-old.

"Was it? First LB, wow. None in England? I probably should have bowled fuller," he joked.

"I feel like a lot of the wickets are caught behind the wicket. I feel like when the wicket is pretty true it's hard to attack the stumps sometimes. That's always a challenge, trying to get the ball in a position where you can get an LB or a bowled. But yeah, that's surprised me because we always talk about trying to hit the top of the bails and that kind of height, so thanks for that. I'll work on that!"

Cummins' heroics helped Australia establish a 319-run first-innings lead but he endorsed captain Tim Paine's decision not to enforce the follow-on.

"No, [I was] not that keen to bowl tonight," he added. "There's still two days left in the game so we're in no major rush.

"I hear the commentators and everyone talk about it a lot – [but] it's still a massive decision. When you're that far in front in the game, to give the other team a chance to get back into it.

"I think I bowled 17 overs, which isn't huge, but suddenly if we have to have another couple of days out there [in the field] that's basically one innings of bowling, 40 or 50 overs.

"[We will try to get] a good night's sleep, [and go] fresh at them tomorrow. Hopefully we can strike while we're a little bit fresher."

James Pattinson contributed 3-34 on his return to the Test side and Cummins was not surprised by his fellow quick's impact.

"We all know how good Jimmy is," he said.

"When you speak to guys playing Shield cricket or county cricket they speak of him as though he's one of the best bowlers in the world, and we all know that.

"To come out here in front of his home fans, rather than in Shield cricket, was great.

"We absolutely love having him in our team. He's a competitor and bowls 145 kilometres an hour, gets up for the challenge, and nips the ball around. So, he's a handful. [I am] Really happy for him."

New Zealand paceman Trent Boult has been ruled out of the third Test against Australia after fracturing a finger on Saturday.

Boult, who missed the series opener due to a side strain, was hit on the hand by Mitchell Starc during day three of the second Test in Melbourne.

The left-armer bowled during Australia's second innings before the Black Caps announced he had fractured a finger on his right hand.

"Trent Boult will return home to New Zealand following the second Test after suffering a fracture to the second-metacarpal of his right hand while batting on day three," they wrote on Twitter at the close of play.

"He will require around four weeks of rehabilitation. A replacement player will be confirmed in due course."

New Zealand are staring at a 2-0 deficit in the three-Test series, which will conclude in Sydney beginning on January 3.

Australia are 137-4 in their second innings, leading by 456 runs at the MCG.

Australia closed in on victory in the second Test against New Zealand after dominating in Melbourne on Saturday.

Pat Cummins (5-28) starred at the MCG as the Black Caps were bowled out for just 148 in response to Australia's first-innings 467.

The hosts' pace attack have put their team in position for an unassailable 2-0 series lead as Cummins and James Pattinson impressed.

Australia decided not to enforce the follow on, reaching 137-4 – a lead of 456 runs – at stumps on day three.

The Black Caps resumed at 44-2, but superb bowling by Australia early in the day saw them take complete control.

Cummins and Pattinson (3-34) were particularly impressive, while Mitchell Starc (2-30) grabbed a couple of late wickets.

Bowling with superb accuracy throughout the first session, Cummins and Pattinson forced New Zealand's batsmen to play at most deliveries and it brought success under cloudy skies in hot and humid weather.

Ross Taylor (4) fell to Cummins, although Marnus Labuschagne put down a chance at third slip which deflected to Joe Burns at first.

Cummins had Henry Nicholls lbw off the next ball, while a diving Steve Smith dropped Tom Latham on nine off Pattinson.

Latham was able to provide some resistance to Australia's pace attack as BJ Watling (7) and Colin de Grandhomme (11) fell cheaply.

Cummins removed Latham shortly after lunch and the tail followed despite Neil Wagner's unbeaten 18.

Australia opted not to enforce the follow on before David Warner (38) and Burns (35) contributed most before stumps, with Matthew Wade (15) and Travis Head (11) unbeaten.

Smith fell to Wagner (2-38) for the fourth time in the series and to another short ball as the star batsman made seven, but Australia are in command.

Neil Wagner claimed it feels like Australia's batsmen have been a step ahead of New Zealand, but he does not believe the Black Caps need to rethink their approach.

Travis Head (114), Steve Smith (85) and Tim Paine (79) all made big scores as Australia took control of the second Test in Melbourne on day two, amassing 467 from their first innings.

Wagner (4-83) was the pick of New Zealand's bowlers, though he believes the tourists were unfortunate to find Paine and Head in such fine form.

The solution, according to Wagner, is for the bowling attack to attempt to sustain longer spells of pressure, rather than tear up their plans and start afresh heading into the third Test in Sydney.

"Pretty tough day. We put in a lot of hard work yesterday and were hoping for some rewards early doors and there wasn't any," Wagner told a news conference.

"We kept fighting and I think that's one of the personalities of this team, we kept giving everything. The opportunities didn't really always go our way.

"Finally, we created something, thought we might have a bit of a gap and then two guys [Head and Paine] came out and played really well. It's one of those things.

"Full credit to the Australian batsmen. They've almost been a step ahead of us in some ways. Showed a lot of patience, some clear plans and they kept doing that through the whole innings.

"Everybody knows we can bowl a lot of overs. It's one of our strengths as a bowling group, we can back it up. We might not be the quickest on the radar but we're some of the fittest bowlers around. That's all you can ask for.

"I think our plans are very good. We have a quality bowling line up. The amount of edges we've had that just didn't carry. It's a bit of luck you need sometimes.

"I think we created the pressure and it just didn't happen. Sometimes it can be frustrating and you leak a couple of runs. I thought our plans were pretty good. 

"You've got to be ruthless against a quality batting line up. I guess you've got to be better for longer and you need a bit of luck and we didn't really have that."

New Zealand reached stumps at 44-2, with Tom Blundell (15) and captain Kane Williamson (9) losing their wickets.

Travis Head believes his century against New Zealand shows he has matured as a Test batsman and he has hailed Australia captain Tim Paine for his assistance.

Head's 114 helped Australia take control of the second Test against the Black Caps in Melbourne on Friday.

The hosts – leading the three-Test series 1-0 – made 467 in their first innings, with Steve Smith (85) and Paine (79) also contributing big scores.

Middle-order batsman Head, who hit a Test century against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, scored 56 in his first innings in the Perth Test, though only managed five in his second stint at the crease, and was publicly criticised by former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

However, Head stated he has proved he has added more maturity to his game with his century at the MCG.

"I've been really happy with how I've been starting innings over the last few months, especially this season, so it was about making sure I go on," Head told reporters.

"I was more disappointed getting out in the second innings [in Perth] and looking back to how my week panned out, probably even more frustrated after my second innings about the first innings.

"Over the last couple of years, as I've matured I've been able to get more hundreds. It was pretty lean early days in my career and I think over the last two or three years I've been able to get big scores and go on with that.

"As I was younger, I think I tried to get through those 90s a bit quicker than I should have, and over time you get more mature and you can relax, and I was happy to do it in ones.

"Happy to nudge my way there, it probably took a bit longer than I thought, but New Zealand bowled some really good spells where it was very difficult to score, so pretty proud of the fact I was able to keep them out there."

Australia skipper Paine has at times come under scrutiny for his own batting, but Head insisted the wicketkeeper played a huge part in helping him claim the century.

"I think it helped that Tim came out and struck the ball as well as he did," Head added.

"Definitely took a lot of pressure off me, I don't think I changed the way I went about it, especially to [Neil] Wagner, Tim took him on and played exceptionally well and was very positive, plays the pull and hook shots extremely well.

"That was his game plan and at the other end [a] left-hand, right-hand [combination] definitely helped with the momentum and putting pressure back on their bowlers. Exceptional day for Tim as well and he took a lot of pressure off me in the partnership."

Travis Head scored a century as Australia took control of the second Test against New Zealand in Melbourne on Friday.

Head (114) starred at the MCG as the hosts, already leading the three-Test series 1-0, made 467 in their first innings.

Steve Smith (85) and Tim Paine (79) also made valuable contributions before Australia struck twice prior to stumps to leave the Black Caps in trouble.

Pat Cummins (1-8) and James Pattinson (1-9) took the wickets of Tom Blundell (15) and Kane Williamson (9) respectively as New Zealand finished day two on 44-2, trailing by 423 runs.

The day belonged to Head, who made his second Test century during a fine innings as Australia cemented their control after being put in.

Smith fell in the first session after a well-directed short ball from Neil Wagner (4-83) and fine one-handed catch by Henry Nicholls at gully.

While the wicket of Smith gave New Zealand a boost, Head and Paine quickly put Australia back on top.

They were in control throughout the second session as they put on 150 for the sixth wicket.

Paine fell short of a maiden Test ton, dismissed by Wagner after a successful review for lbw by New Zealand.

Head brought up his century before Australia chased quick runs, largely unsuccessfully as Tim Southee (3-103) cleaned up the tail.

It gave Australia the chance to land a couple of blows before stumps as they removed Blundell and Williamson.

Blundell, who had been aggressive, tried a big drive and edged Cummins through to Paine, while Williamson played an uncharacteristically poor shot.

The New Zealand captain tried to pull Pattinson from outside off but skied his shot and was caught by a running Paine.

Pattinson also thought he had Ross Taylor lbw, but the Kiwi successfully reviewed, with the delivery going over the top, and he will return on Saturday alongside Tom Latham.

Trent Boult conceded it was "annoying" for New Zealand to only claim four wickets on day one at the MCG after they won the toss in the second Test with Australia. 

The Black Caps claimed a spectacular breakthrough in the first over when Boult found early swing to bowl Joe Burns through the gate for a golden duck.

However, Marnus Labuschagne (63) and Steve Smith (77 not out) ensured it was Australia's day, the hosts reaching 257-4 at stumps.

"Obviously we'd like another couple of wickets on that tally ... winning the toss," said Boult in a news conference.

"The overheads and the way the pitch played in the first hour or two, we tried to make the most of it, but yes, [it's] annoying not to have them a couple more down.

"I think it just turned into a good surface. Definitely when the cloud burned off and the bright blue skies came out, it was just good old-fashioned Test cricket really.

"We tried to stay as patient as we could and I suppose on the positive [side] they haven't got too far ahead of the game in terms of the run rate and runs on the board.

"We've got to come back tomorrow [Friday], hopefully get a couple [of wickets] early and see what happens."

Boult, who hailed the level of support for New Zealand in a crowd of 80,473, could at least reflect on a memorable moment due to his dismissal of Burns.

"I was actually quite nervous before the start of the match," he added. "I don't remember the first ball but it was nice to get that one kind of right, and full and straight.

"To see it swing back [and bowl Burns is great], of course, in any Test match, but with 80,000 people watching it was pretty exhilarating.

"Hopefully there's a few more of them left in the next couple of days and we can get in front here."

The prolific Smith earned praise from Boult after demonstrating plenty of patience while facing 192 balls.

"I thought he played really well - he looked to defend as many balls as he could and obviously hung in there and he's built himself a nice little innings," said the New Zealand seamer.

"He's a quality player ... when he leaves well, defends well and plays quite straight, he doesn't give you too much."

Steve Smith said he did not even notice the mixed reception he received from fans at the MCG when he walked out to bat for Australia against New Zealand on Thursday.

Smith's unbeaten 77 and 63 from Marnus Labuschagne helped Australia claim the opening-day honours in the second Test, the hosts reaching 257-4 after losing the toss.

However, a healthy contingent of Black Caps supporters in a crowd of 80,743 - a record for any day of Test cricket between Australia and New Zealand - ensured Smith was greeted by plenty of boos when he walked to the crease, even if they were largely drowned out by cheers.

Asked in a news conference if he had ever been booed walking out to bat in Australia, Smith replied: "Is that what happened? I've no idea."

He added: "I don't really listen when I walk out to bat - cheering, booing, don't know. I've learned to just block it all out, regardless, good or bad."

Smith faced plenty of short-pitched bowling during his innings and was pleased with his decision-making at the crease.

"I was happy with the way that I was able to get through it and score some runs on what I felt wasn't the easiest of wickets to bat on," he explained.

"It takes a lot of patience, just the way they [New Zealand] set the field up. There's not a whole lot you can do and it's risky to play the pull shot, with the field they've got set, particularly off the wrong length. So I thought I played that well.

"I never really felt in all day. They used some short stuff early on and I was able to get through that. I was able to ride a few, I copped a few hits.

"After getting sent in I think you'd take 4-257 at the end of the day. One more good partnership tomorrow [Friday] would be nice and set the game up for us."

Steve Smith produced a gritty performance to hand Australia the edge over New Zealand on an absorbing first day of the Boxing Day Test.

Asked to bat first on a heavily scrutinised wicket, Australia reached 257-4 on day one thanks to Smith and his unbeaten 77 at the MCG in Melbourne, where 80,473 fans were in attendance.

Just like Marnus Labuschagne's 63, it was an innings of patience from Smith, who defied New Zealand's bowlers to close in on another Test century on Thursday as Australia look to wrap up the three-Test series.

Travis Head also made it to stumps unbeaten on 25 against a New Zealand team making their first Boxing Day appearance at the MCG since 1987.

All eyes were on the MCG after a Sheffield Shield match was abandoned earlier this month due to a dangerous surface, but on the evidence of the first morning, curators rectified the issue.

After New Zealand captain Kane Williamson opted to bowl first on a wicket with thick grass coverage and overcast morning conditions, it only took spearhead Trent Boult (1-60) – back from injury – four deliveries to skittle opener Joe Burns for a duck in the first over.

Boult and Tim Southee (0-63) looked threatening with the new ball but David Warner and Labuschagne nullified the danger, preserving wickets over big scoring, until 15 minutes prior to lunch.

Black Caps paceman Neil Wagner (1-40) claimed the prized scalp of Warner for 41 – the star opener pushing out a full delivery and sending a thick edge to the diving Southee to leave Australia 61-2.

Labuschagne – who arrived in the first over – played a patient innings, cementing himself at the crease alongside former Australia captain Smith.

Spared a life following a mix-up in running with Smith as Williamson missed the stumps, Labuschagne brought up his fifth successive 50-plus score with an edge off Boult.

Labuschagne enjoyed success against Mitchell Santner (0-34), pulling a short ball for six before Smith lofted a delivery straight into the sightscreen as the Australia pair clubbed the New Zealand spinner for 17 runs in an over.

But just as Labuschagne was looking comfortable, the in-form batsman deflected a Colin de Grandhomme (2-48) delivery off his elbow and onto the stumps in the middle session before tea.

That brought Matthew Wade (38) to the crease and he renewed his battle with Wagner – the Australian managing to make it through a torrid period before the last interval.

As Smith entered Australia's top 10 of all-time leading run scorers in Test cricket thanks to his 28th Test fifty, De Grandhomme's delivery nipping away from Wade, who edged to BJ Watling.

Mitchell Swepson could make his Test debut in the series finale against New Zealand after being called into Australia's squad for the Sydney showdown.

Leg-spinner Swepson has been added to the squad for the third and final Test, which gets underway at the SCG on January 3.

Swepson, whose only international appearance came in a Twenty20 against England in 2018, has taken 12 wickets from six Sheffield Shield games at 26.58 this season.

The 26-year-old Queenslander could join Nathan Lyon in a two-pronged spin attack against the Black Caps – who are fighting to keep the series alive in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

"Having Mitch in Sydney gives us the option to play two specialist spinners if the conditions demand," National selector Trevor Hohns said. "We will make those assessments when we get to Sydney."

Meanwhile, veteran paceman Peter Siddle has been released from the squad after Australia opted for James Pattinson to replace injured quick Josh Hazlewood at the MCG.

"Having Sids [Siddle] as the 13th man and his experience at the MCG has been invaluable," Hohns added. "His insights have greatly assisted the fast bowlers for this Test and it was great having him around the group.

"James has been with the squad through the summer, has performed well Marsh Sheffield Shield matches and is thoroughly deserving of his recall to the team."

Australia can wrap up the series in Melbourne following their 296-run rout of New Zealand in Perth.

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