After what can only be described as a pretty boring draw at Lord’s last week, England and New Zealand will meet in the second Test at Edgbaston on Thursday with the series very much on the line in this final match.
New Zealand are now a week away from the World Test Championship Final and will be eager to go there with a win while England will want to start to build some momentum ahead of a couple of big series to come for them too.
I always felt that England would be up against it at Lord’s last week. I didn’t expect a great pitch given the amount of cricket that hasn’t been played at the London venue over the last year or so and the pitch didn’t really do anything to help them. To be fair to Joe Root and his men, they toiled hard throughout the game but they could never get themselves in a position whereby they were on top at any stage so they’ll probably be content with a draw.
England have chosen not to use their IPL players in this series and the first thing which was immediately apparent is that without Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler there was nobody to put time back into the game or indeed impetus into the England batting innings. That is something that they will need to address moving forward. The one thing they have in their favour here is a significant home advantage with Edgbaston probably the ground England receive the best support at.
Aside from the rain on the third day denying them the chance to force a result, New Zealand will be very happy with their showing in the first game of the series. They have made no secret of the fact that they are using this series to get everyone up to speed for the more important final that comes next week, and that is fair enough, and to be fair a number of their players contributed positively to the game, either with the bat or the ball.
If there is a concern for New Zealand it would be that they weren’t fantastic with the bat with the exception of the Devon Conway innings in the first innings. There were some bits and pieces around that but nobody really looked all that confident with the bat in hand which will have frustrated them. The flip side of that is that they looked pretty good with the ball, although the English batsmen never really put the under any pressure.
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England will be forced into at least one change for this match with Ollie Robinson sent on his way after the nature of the history of his social media account came to light. It looks like Craig Overton will replace him which will create more questions than answers. England then need to decide whether to play a spinner in Jack Leach or keep using Joe Root’s part-time spin.
New Zealand are also going to have to make changes as their captain Kane Williamson misses out with an elbow injury. The news of that came after it was confirmed that Mitchell Santner would also miss out with an injury of his own. Will Young will replace Williamson with Tom Latham taking the captaincy. Trent Boult and Matt Henry are in line for recalls.
I’m not going to go too deep into this match because I’m not sure either team care too much about it and therefore why should we chuck too much of our hard earned at it!? I’ll have a couple of small bets though with the first of them being on the draw once again. We saw at Lord’s that these two both play a similar style of cricket which can make the matches quite attritional which doesn’t really suit anyone in truth. As I highlighted for the Lord’s game, Test grounds in this country lost a lot of dough last year and they’ll be out to get as much of it back as possible when they stage matches this year so I don’t expect a wicket that is going to assist the bowlers too much, not for the first four days anyway. Both sides are playing second string bowlers in their attacks here and both are going to bat deep again. There is no rain forecast but there wasn’t much at Lord’s and we still lost a day not to mention the ridiculous amounts of overs that disappeared into the vortex that weren’t bowled each day. If there is a result here I expect it to come late but we should be able to guarantee a profit by that stage. I think the 4/1 on the draw is a little too big here.
The other bet I’ll take is for Trent Boult to be the leading wicket taker in the New Zealand first innings. New Zealand are set to rest Tim Southee and Neil Wagner here so Boult should be the chief threat to the England batsmen, who didn’t play the swinging ball particularly well at all in the first dig at Lord’s, and that was to a right hander without the left arm angle to worry about. Boult is a bit of a master with the new ball and he can get the old ball talking as well. England have seen Jamieson now and Matt Henry has played enough county cricket for the England side to know all about him. That just leaves the class of Boult to land the goods at 5/2.
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