England’s two-match series against New Zealand gets underway and signals the start of a hectic summer for Joe Root’s men as they are set to welcome four international sides in the next three months before their journey down under later in the year. 

Here’s our preview of their opening game against the Kiwis.

Anderson to make history, again?

Looking ahead to the first Test many eyes will be on England’s selection choices and with some of the sides biggest names already side-lined, fans could be looking at some future stars in the national side. Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are the two most notable names missing from the squad sheet through injury, as they recover from a broken finger and elbow surgery respectively. Ben Foakes was a late addition to the injury list when suffering a freak accident in the Surrey dressing room last week and other absentees include Jos Butler, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, and Moeen Ali who have all been granted extended leave after the IPL.

The absence of these regular names on the team sheet has paved the way for Ollie Robinson and James Bracey to earn a call up and while Bracey will almost certainly be handed a cap for his wicketkeeping credentials, Robinson could also be in line to feature on Day 1. The Sussex paceman has had a remarkable few seasons in the County Championship and selection in the first Test would be well-earned.

The biggest question Chris Silverwood will have to face is the now tiresome debate of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. Both have enjoyed great success over the years at Lords and the recent rotation policy has seen the fruitful partnership suffering in recent times. However, it is now imperative that with such key players missing and a tough series against India coming up, England must field their strongest side and get back to winning ways. If they are both selected to play it would be no surprise to see Anderson leading the England attack by example, the Lancastrian has enjoyed more success at Lords than any other ground in the world. In his 18-year career for England he has taken 103 wickets at the iconic venue, 39 more than at Trent Bridge which has been his second most profitable venue. This is important to note when you factor in that the veteran swinger is now just six wickets short of claiming the third spot on the all-time highest Test wicket takers list. A record that, selection permitting, could easily be broken in this Test. Anderson is 5/2 to be England’s top first innings bowler.

England favourites but be wary of Williamson

England are 5/6 to claim first blood in the two-match series and a lot of their success will rely on Kane Williamson, both as leader of the Kiwis and as one of the best batsmen in world cricket. Williamson’s reputation precedes himself and his very healthy average of 54 coming from his 83 Tests is testament to his ability and temperament. To be successful in this first Test, England’s plans for him will have to be watertight and hopefully there will be no mental scarring left behind from the last time one of the best batsmen in the world came to these shores, Steve Smith. Unable to find a way to get him out, England played a heavy price and if they are going to justify their position as favourites much will rest on their planning in getting Williamson early.

New Zealand are priced at 21/10 to take the first Test and with the experience of players they bring such as Ross Taylor, who has seen his fair share of cricket in this country both as an International player and in the County Championship, they will be certainly up for the battle. The New Zealand squad features many players from the infamous 2019 World Cup final and as they return to the scene of the crime at Lords, it can be expected they will be out for revenge. Unfortunately, it is worthy of mention that the first Test of the English summer can be backed as a draw at 4/1, although we can only hope that we see the uninterrupted play this fixture deserves because all things considered this should be a great Test match to kick-off an excellent summer schedule for England.

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