Can England’s Test team overcome the New Zealand challenge?

The England Test team face New Zealand in a two game series to kick-off the British Summer.

The British summer begins (finally)

Summertime is finally upon us after a long stretch of cold and cool weather. It’s almost June but at least it’s here. The first Test match of a long and arduous summer will begin on Wednesday, with England’s Test team taking on New Zealand.

So, what is there to look forward to and how might the series pan out?

Fixtures

England vs New Zealand 2-6th June 2021, Lords

England vs New Zealand 10th-14th June 2021, Edgbaston

Squads

England:

Joe Root (Yorkshire) (C),  James Anderson (Lancashire), James Bracey (WK) (Gloucestershire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Craig Overton (Somerset), Haseeb Hameed (Nottinghamshire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham), Sam Billings (Kent)

New Zealand:

Kane Williamson (C), Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Rachin Ravindra, Will Young, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Tom Latham, BJ Watling (WK), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner.

The Kiwi conundrum

Kane Williamson’s side have a slight edge over England’s Test team, especially in the recent past. The Three Lions last won a series against New Zealand in 2013 at home, 2-0. Since then, they drew 1-1 in 2015 at home and then lost 1-0 twice away from home, in 2018 and 2019.

New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson celebrates reaching his double century (200 runs) on day three of the second cricket Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on January 5, 2021. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

One of the reasons for this is that New Zealand play in similar conditions to England. Hence, it makes for an even contest, considering that both teams have quality players. With the World Test Championship final immediately after the two game series, the Kiwis would want to be in good form and hence it could be a big series for them.

 

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Rest and recover?

Mark Nicholas recently stated that “Players such as Sam Curran, who are really eager to bat, bowl and change the world don’t really need a rest. England are keeping too much talent on the bench.

He is correct in the fact that the likes of Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes haven’t played since the beginning of May. As a result, it is strange to see that the ECB are giving them a rest for this series. They have had over a month to recover and should be excited to play again.

The bubble situation and self-isolating could be the biggest reason as to why one month is not enough because half of that is spent in a bio-secure environment, away from their families and friends. Either way, England will definitely not be able to field their strongest side, as these players are key to their Test team.

Jimmy Anderson’s last hurrah?

Jimmy Anderson will turn 39 this summer and has had an excellent career so far. Incredibly, he has played 160 Test matches as a fast bowler, picking up 614 wickets at a bowling average of 26. There is no doubt that he has gotten better with age.

The thing is though, how long can he continue playing at such a high level?

James Anderson bowling against India in 2018 at Lords was perhaps among his top 5 best bowling spells along with the 2013 Ashes series. Happy Birthday to James Anderson!
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 11: Jimmy Anderson celebrates England’s series victory and his 564th test wicket after the 5th Specsavers Test Match between England and India at The Kia Oval on September 11, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Pool/Visionhaus/Getty Images)

It would not be unthinkable that this could be Anderson’s last home summer at the international level. The Ashes 2021/22 awaits in December and he could use that series as his farewell in England colours.

 

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Likely XI’s

England’s Test Team: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (C), Ollie Pope, James Bracey (WK), Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson, Jack Leach, Mark Wood.

New Zealand’s Test Team: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (WK), Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson.

Series Prediction

England to win the series 1-0, with one of the games being drawn.

Main Image Credit:
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