New Zealand v England: First Test Preview
The heroics of Ben Stokes and Jack Leach against Australia seem a lifetime ago now as England embark on their first test series since the most incredible summer that English cricket has ever witnessed.
It was a summer that you just didn’t want to end, filled with numerous “where were you?” moments. Can we do it all again? Sadly not.
On the eve of the first Test Match in Mount Maunganui, in the North Island of New Zealand, it feels a little bit like a new era for English Cricket.
There’s a new Head Coach. We all knew Trevor Bayliss would be leaving after The Ashes and he has been replaced by Chris Silverwood, a surprise to a few no doubt.
Jason Roy’s torrid time against the Australians has sadly pretty much ended his Test career before it started. Jonny Bairstow’s lack of form in the last 18 months saw his exclusion from the squad, although he was called up as cover for a fit-again Joe Denley, he has since returned home.
On the bowling front, James Anderson is still working his way back to fitness after missing all but a morning of The Ashes in the summer. Moeen Ali is taking a break and Mark Wood is out with an injury. The former will have an eye on returning for the South Africa series that starts on Boxing Day.
With that said, the squad looks exciting with a healthy mix of old and new.
After scoring over 1,300 runs in the County Championship last season, Warwickshire’s Dom Sibley looks set to open the batting alongside Rory Burns. Joe Root has already said that he will be batting at number 4 which means that Joe Denly will bat at number 3. It will be no easy task against the likes of Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson, but probably a little easier than what Roy and co had to deal with in the summer.
Surrey’s Ollie Pope has already had a taste of Test Cricket batting at number 4. He will most likely bat at 6 with Stokes at 5 and Jos Buttler taking the keeping gloves at 7.
Chris Woakes and Sam Curran will ultimately battle it out for the number 8 spot with a pretty settled Jofra Archer, Jack Leach and Stuart Broad below them.
Uncapped Zak Crawley, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson will all be looking to get their chance too in the two-match series.
With it being announced this week that England are “aligned” on a two-year plan to win back the Ashes in 2020-21, we are in for an exciting few years of Test Cricket as we all know what can happen when England plan for something!