“Broad, Anderson, Woakes and Stokes along with Moeen Ali will most probably take the field on Thursday. The presence of Stokes and Ali will only allow them to play an extra bowler or a batsman. Mark Wood might get a go if England decide to play an extra bowler, which will only add more firepower to their bowling”.
After a torrid run in the Ashes, England would look to seek revival of fortunes in the Test series against New Zealand. Australia outplayed England in the five-match series Down Under, winning it by 4-0. England’s batting failed to fire in crunch situations whereas their bowlers struggled to get going too. They did well in the shorter formats to gain momentum, but Test cricket is a different ball game altogether.
The return of Ben Stokes in the line-up has only strengthened the side and has added the missing X-factor. It has added more depth and stability in the attack, which was exposed in Australia. England have a splendid bowling attack going into the series. Although, New Zealand’s troika of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner will pose a massive threat in home conditions, but England have a relatively stronger batting line-up to counter-attack it.
Both the sides have potent and threatening bowling attacks, but New Zealand’s fragile batting-order could give England an edge. England have the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, Mason Crane, Craig Overton and Moeen Ali. With the series opener being played under the lights at Eden Park, bowling will play a crucial role.
Broad, Anderson, Woakes and Stokes along with Moeen Ali will most probably take the field on Thursday. The presence of Stokes and Ali will only allow them to play an extra bowler or a batsman. Mark Wood might get a go if England decide to play an extra bowler, which will only add more firepower to their bowling.
Anderson is widely reckoned for his deadly swing bowling and one can expect him to wreak havoc under the lights while Broad banks on his incredible ability to penetrate. The duo has done a fantastic job as a pair over the years and will look to lead England’s resurgence. They didn’t have an outstanding run in the Ashes and will look to make amends against New Zealand.
Woakes, on the other hand, was man of the series in the ODI series against New Zealand. He bowled with immense confidence and looked in good rhythm. He swung the new ball and restricted the flow of runs in the death overs. He is the in-form bowler and has adapted to the alien conditions quite well. Stokes is a utility cricketer and has done a commendable job across formats for England. He can produce those wicket-taking deliveries and his presence ensures there is no breathing space for Kiwi batsmen while Ali can be handy when the conditions offer turn.
Talking about New Zealand’s batting, there isn’t much experience barring Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and BJ Watling. One can expect them to do well in conditions suited to them but will need others to step up. Jeet Raval has shown great promise at the top and New Zealand will be expecting him to provide a long-term solution to their opening woes and this series will be a test of his skill and character.
Latham failed to convert good starts into substantial scores in their latest Test series against West Indies and England will be a challenge of a different kind. His weaknesses could be well exploited by Anderson and Broad with the new ball. New Zealand’s middle-order will be a tough nut to crack for the English bowlers with the presence of Williamson, Taylor and Watling. The wicketkeeper-batsman has been recalled to the Test side and would be under pressure for securing his spot.
It would be interesting to see how Henry Nicholls and belligerent Colin De Grandhomme fare against this kind of bowling attack. They have a knack of scoring quick runs, but it would demand a different set of skills to do so against a high-quality pace attack like England. Also, New Zealand does not have the kind of depth in their batting that England have.
The pitch at Eden Park had some grass on it a day before the match, which brings seamers into play. The conditions in New Zealand assists seam bowling, which provides both the sides with an equal opportunity, but New Zealand’s delicate batting could prove costly. The ODI series turned out to be an intense one and one can expect the same from the Test series as well. That solidity, that spice is missing in New Zealand’s batting, which English bowlers will look to exploit.