By News Team
8th June 2021
England’s two-match series against New Zealand began with a draw in the first Test when all results were on the table heading into the final innings. Disappointingly for cricket fans, Joe Root’s side were not tempted to go for glory and ground out the draw leaving the series in the balance.
It’s all to play for, then, and here’s our look ahead to the second and final encounter.
Edgbaston to the rescue
When New Zealand declared on 169-6 at lunch in the first Test the game was poised for a potentially thrilling run chase, England would require 273 runs from the 75 overs available. Unfortunately, with the carrot firmly dangled it was never considered by the England dressing room, instead opting for a safety-first approach as highlighted from Dom Sibley’s cautious 60 from 207 balls. The Test up until that point had shown signs of drama but it never materialised into a fashion that a final innings chase could offer.
The good news is that we move on from that disappointment to Edgbaston where both sides can claim a series victory. First, England’s mind will, as seemingly ever, be focused on selection. With Ollie Robinson unavailable for selection after a fine debut, England have recalled spinner Dom Bess to the squad. Having taken 14 wickets for Yorkshire this season at an average of 41.64 the former Somerset man appears to still be struggling which will make his inclusion in the XI all but concrete. Opting to not play a spinner in the first Test was not the inspired decision Chris Silverwood had hoped for. Again, the lack of a first-class spinner in England’s ranks is brought to the forefront, but they may be left with little choice than to play Bess at a ground that has taken plenty of spin this season.
On the bowling front, it can be hoped that both Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson will come on for their efforts at Lords, and the cobwebs will be firmly shaken off by the time they arrive in Birmingham. Anderson has enjoyed his cricket at Edgbaston taking his 44 Test wickets there at an average of 22.02 and it would be no surprise to see him firing on all cylinders in the first innings where the seam option will dominate proceedings. It is for that reason that he stands out at the top of the market at 9/4 to be England’s top wicket taker.
England need a win
In what is a hectic year for England, the importance of a victory early in the summer cannot be underestimated for Joe Root’s side. It is for that reason that England could be deemed a good price in their slight favouritism at 13/10 while the tourists can be backed at 6/4.
As ever, captains Joe Root and Kane Williamson head up the top run-scorer markets for their respective sides at 9/4 and 2/1. Being the world-class players that they are it is always difficult to take them on as they are capable of turning it on at any point. However, a case could be made to look at Zak Crawley at 9/2 for England, hitting a bit of a slump he will not want to go into the Sri Lanka series with a question mark next to his name and the character that he is will do all to avoid that.
Should we see the determination to win on both sides that we missed in the first Test, this looks all set to line up as a great series decider at a ground that has sorely missed the fans presence.