With Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum taking charge of England for the first time there will be a lot of eyes on this new period of English cricket.

England’s three-match series against New Zealand gets underway on Thursday at Lords and not only does it signify the start of the Test summer for England, but it also marks the start of the Stokes and McCullum reign.

What’s new?

There will be a lot of questions answered in the coming weeks, but we won’t have to wait long for what is arguably the most important issue that fans will want addressing. On Thursday morning we will know the final XI that will play in this opening test of the Stokes/McCullum age and with that we will know how they want this passage of English cricket to be shaped. It’s already been an encouraging start for the two New Zealand born men who now sit atop the tree of English cricket, as much to the fans delight there were two names that appeared on the squad list that had been a source of contention in their predecessor’s reign. Stuart Broad and James Anderson were notable admissions from England’s last Test series and there is plenty of reason to suspect that such a shocking error was the final nail in the coffin for that administration.

However, it’s unknown whether we will see both Broad and Anderson take the new ball together at Lords or whether we’ll have to wait for that reunion. One thing that we can be almost sure of though, is that the world’s most successful seam bowler in Anderson is likely to line up and head England’s attack, and for which he is 7/4 to lead by example and claim the most first innings wickets for the hosts. The rest of the bowling department is tricky to second guess as far as final selection is concerned, and they are as plagued by injury as Matt Parkinson is to disappointment. The home side will likely leave things until the very last minute before making such a key decision.

A lot is always talked about in the English media of a ‘brand’ of cricket that England play or are likely to play, and this Test at Lords will be all about determining that ‘brand’ and developing it further. With Stokes and McCullum at the helm though, you can count on it not being shy and retiring, and that means getting off to a winning start.

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Off to a flyer

England, because of the reasons aforementioned or otherwise, will head into this Test the 5/4 favourites with the visitors underdogs at 2/1. Rather bizarrely for an English Bank Holiday, let along an English summer, the weather forecast looks good and with both sides wanting to get this three-match series off to a winning start the draw at 5/2 looks unlikely and can be discarded.

The top batsmen market is of more interest though, and Kane Williamson being boosted to 10/3 from 11/4 looks quite appealing. The form of the New Zealand captain hasn’t been up to his usual domineering heights, but what’s the old adage? Form is temporary, class is permanent. And, Williamson has class in abundance.

For the host’s it could also fall on the former captain Joe Root who, even when he was trying to juggle the collapse of English cricket alongside anchoring his team, has been unflappable in the past 18 months and there is no reason to suggest that his form could have taken a dip or that the pressures of captaincy that he is now been alleviated of could harm his chances to score big in this Test. At 2/1 he looks tempting to be England’s top first innings scorer, but be mindful of a certain Ben Stokes who will no doubt look to show the cricketing world what the captaincy means to him, and at 9/2 he could certainly be dangerous.

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