New Zealand v England Test Series
1st Test November 21st to 25th Mount Maunganui
2nd Test November 29th to December 3rd Hamilton
After a successful start to his time as England’s head coach, winning the 5-match T20 series 3-2, Chris Silverwood starts his Test match tenure with a 2-match series against the same opposition. Improving England’s red ball record is likely to be a completely different task and his biggest challenge.
Its an ideal place for Silverwood to start, playing tough opposition but away from the hype a series against Australia or India would bring. Alistair Cook has backed the appointment recently stating “Clarity, that is one thing he’ll bring. He’s very clear on what he wants and it’s very simple what he wants. The players will know, they’ll be very well prepared, they’ll know exactly what he demands of them, and he’ll be a real helping hand for Joe Root, taking a lot of pressure off Root in terms of off-field stuff.” Root will be hoping to improve on his average of 40.81 in his 33 matches as skipper.
The England side have lost their way in Test matches in recent time, despite a creditable draw in the recent Ashes, as focus shifted towards winning the 2019 World Cup. With that target now achieved, a new era dawns as Silverwood and his captain Root preach a return to traditional values of building an innings and batting for long periods. “When I say batting for a long time, it doesn’t mean just blocking it. You’re looking to score runs, big runs. If we can come away having started that process, galvanising people and figuring out their roles, then it will be a success,” said Silverwood prior to this 1st Test match in Mount Maunganui. However, both captain and coach will want to win the series, and only that will be deemed a success by the media.
The new team structure will see Root return to his preferred position at No. 4, one above Ben Stokes, while England unveil yet another new opening partnership after failures at the top of the order during the summer. Jason Roy has been dropped, Joe Denly will bat at No.3 and the uncapped opener Dom Sibley looks set to debut. Ollie Pope returns in the middle order and Jos Buttler takes the gloves again. The bowling looks more settled with Jofra Archer, Stuart Board and Jack Leach set to continue from where they left of against Australia, with Sam Curran likely to be preferred to Chris Woakes for the final spot.
New Zealand keep faith with the majority of the squad that returned with a 1-1 draw in their last series, away in Sri Lanka. The only changes are Lockie Ferguson and legspinner Todd Astle replacing fingerspinners Will Sommerville and Ajaz Patel. Regarding Ferguson, selector Gavin Larsen said “It’s well documented he has raw pace, but he also possesses a quality bowling skill set and has proved his durability. He showed good form against England in the recent T20 series and backed that up with a solid outing for the Auckland Aces in the Plunket Shield, where he claimed 4 for 23 against the Wellington Firebirds.” New Zealand have a packed schedule ahead of them and are likely to rotate their bowlers to manage workload. Expected Ferguson to debut in the 2nd Test.
Possible 1st Test Line-ups:
England: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root*, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler+, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach
New Zealand: Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson*, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling+, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult
The sides are difficult to split in the betting markets with both available at 7/5 to win the 1st Test. New Zealand have won their last 4 Test Series at home against the West Indies, England last year, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. England on the other hand have only one once in their last 6 overseas series. Combine this with the ICC Test Rankings where the hosts are currently ranked 2nd, one spot ahead of the tourists, suggests New Zealand are the better value bet.
The draw in Tests is often artificially short; you would be consistently up laying the draw on the exchanges over the last 10 years. Following India’s victory over Bangladesh last week, only 17 of the last 150 Test matches (11.3%) have ended in a stalemate. However, 4 of the last 11 matches (36.4%) in New Zealand have been drawn as a shift to flat drop-in pitches and the Kookaburra ball have made wickets hard to come by, while weather as played a part too. The forecast looks good, and the draw is 9/2 with Bet 365.
Joe Root is 3/1 to be Top England Batsman with Bet 365 and looks to be the best pick. Jos Buttler who warmed up with a century against New Zealand A is available at 8/1 with Ladbrokes. Kane Williamson heads the betting for Top New Zealand Batsman at 13/5 while Tom Latham has been in excellent form of late, averaging 84.54 in the 8 matches he has played in the last 12 months. He can be backed at 4/1 with Ladbrokes.
A couple of final markets to focus one. After his performances in the summer Ben Stokes is 12/1 to be Man of the Match with Bet 365 and could star with bat or ball upon returning to the country of his birth. The same firm price up Stuart Board’s player performance at 5/6 for under 90.5. A point is awarded for each run, 20 for each wicket and 10 for each catch. Broad averages 72 points per away Test match and now bats lower in the order as well as being part of a 5-man attack, which has not always been the case. He’ll need to pick up wickets with the new ball to surpass that line.