New Zealand v. England, 1st Test – Preview

So after an intense summer of cricket, where England won the World Cup finally but still managed to lose the Ashes and I’m not personally sure whether I would still swap the results given a chance, we now head to the first part of a rather epic winter tour. Thankfully the white ball nonsense has now come and gone (though I’d still like to hear why we needed 5 T20 games instead of an extra Test Match, but hey that’s just me.)

So we come to the Test series, which sadly only consists of two matches and for some strange reason no Test championship points are on offer. Personally I don’t understand having a test championship if every game doesn’t contribute to the final points tally, but hey ho there’s a lot about international cricket that still baffles me.

England have rejigged their Test line up for this series with Dominic Sibley finally getting a chance to open the batting with Rory Burns. Joe Denly actually performed a decent job during the summer as a makeshift opener; however it is good to see England finally picking two proper openers to open the batting. With Denly likely to bat at three, then Joe Root will take his natural position up as a number four in the batting unit. Whilst having Root batting at number three seems like a good idea in theory, in practice it simply hasn’t worked out with his average markedly lower than when he bats in his favourite position. Personally I would much prefer England’s best batsmen to bat at the position where he feels he can score most runs rather than trying to plug gaps up the order.

It is also heartening to see that England have not been tempted to go back to Jonny Bairstow, who still has a myriad of technical issues in red ball cricket and instead have backed Ollie Pope to score the runs we know he is capable of at 6. Pope without doubt is a major talent and one who was fast tracked too quickly into the England team, in a batting position he was unfamiliar with; hence it should not be surprising that he didn’t perform to expectations first time around. Pope for me is one of the players that England that England should be building their line up around and I genuinely hope he has a good series in New Zealand. The only other question in the build-up to the first Test was whether Chris Woakes or Sam Curran should take the third seamers spot. Personally I’m happy that England have decided to go with Curran as I think his bowling skill set adds a different dimension to the England attack; however I do also understand the thinking that Woakes is the more threatening bowler despite his poor average with the ball overseas. This is something that none of the editors on the blog agree about, so it’s clear it’s a close-run thing.

As for New Zealand, they should come into the test series as favourites. Kane Williamson continues to be both an amazing batsmen and an amazing captain and will no doubt be the prize wicket that England need to take early to be successful on this tour. However in my opinion it will be how England deal with the New Zealand fast bowlers that will decide whether this Test series is won or lost. The combination of Southee and Boult, with Neil Wagner backing them up ably has proved to be the bedrock of the New Zealand’s success in home conditions and without doubt they will look at the England batting unit as an inexperienced one who can be rattled in slightly foreign condition. If England somehow manage to repel the new ball with wickets intact then they may be able to set the platform to score the runs needed to put pressure on the Kiwis; however if Boult or Southee reduce England to 3 or 4 down with the new ball, then once again it will be difficult for the middle and lower orders to dig England out of another hole.

From the first view of the pitch a couple of days ago, it certainly looks like it’s going to suit the seamers with more than a green tinge to it and I’ll personally be extremely interested to see if England adopt a less gung ho approach to batting as both Root and Giles have suggested or if once again they repeat the failings of summer and try to impose their will on the opposition bowlers. Equally if England bowl first then it will be just as interesting to see if the likes of Broad and Archer take the same approach as they did against Australia and keep the ball pitched up rather than banging it down halfway in the hope of intimidating the opposition batsmen.

I personally hope that it’s an even series with some good cricket played on both sides especially as I’m such a sucker for New Zealand Test venues. The time difference and the fact that we’re all the flat-out with work will mean it’s a bit of a challenge for us to cover the series in as much depth as we like, but we’ll certainly try to cover as much of it as we can.

As ever, any thoughts or comments are welcome below:


24 thoughts on “New Zealand v. England, 1st Test – Preview

  1. Metatone Nov 20, 2019 / 9:57 pm

    Seems England chose to bat first… we’ll see how it goes (although I’ll probably have to go to stop listening quite soon as I have an early start tomorrow)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. quebecer Nov 20, 2019 / 11:36 pm

    Just saw Naseem Shah have a little cry when being presented with his 1st cap for Pakistan in Brisbane. For goodness sake, Naseem, stop that. You’re not 15 any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grenville Nov 20, 2019 / 11:56 pm

      This is making me laugh out loud repeatedly.

      To save multiple postings….
      I wasn’t that impressed by Sibley. He seemed a bit to interested in balls outside off. I hope that I’m wrong.

      The one good thing about Agnew is that when he comes on it’s time for bed/to find a dodgy Australia-Pakistan stream


  3. dlpthomas Nov 21, 2019 / 1:02 am

    0800 is an obscene time to start a Test Match (actually “I taped it” and slept in but my point stands)


  4. dlpthomas Nov 21, 2019 / 1:25 am

    Sibley’s going to get a lot of balls on / just outside off stump from now on.


    • quebecer Nov 21, 2019 / 1:50 am

      I do wonder how come NZ took about 20 minutes to work that out, yet county bowlers are still seemingly thinking about it. Or not, perhaps.


      • dlpthomas Nov 21, 2019 / 2:16 am

        Yeah, I wondered about that as well. Maybe I’m being a bit unfair as it is the first time I have seen him bat.


        • quebecer Nov 21, 2019 / 2:38 am

          Mmmmm no, I think you’re good.


          • dlpthomas Nov 21, 2019 / 3:07 am

            That’s not what my wife says.


    • dannycricket Nov 21, 2019 / 7:48 am

      Doesn’t that work against most batsmen though? That was basically all Glenn McGrath bowled.


      • Rohan Nov 21, 2019 / 2:22 pm

        Wasn’t McGrath a little more complex, in that he always bowled top of off 😉. I remember a Shane Warne interview where he said they would have a meeting of senior Aus players to discuss how they would get opposition batsman out. Warne, Waugh, Gilchrist etc. would all have lots of different ideas and plans for each batsman, then they would say ‘Glen what do you think?’ Warne said his reply was always the same ‘I’m just gonna hot the top of off!’

        Liked by 1 person

  5. quebecer Nov 21, 2019 / 2:14 am

    He’s only just in, but I think Root’s trigger movement back and across seems a little more pronounced (more across). Just me?


    • quebecer Nov 21, 2019 / 2:25 am

      Bloody hell. He’s not doing it now. As you were.

      Interestingly, though not that interesting, Denly doesn’t have any trigger movement. He seems to take middle, draws a line, puts the tips of the toes of his right foot on it, and stays there.


      • dlpthomas Nov 21, 2019 / 3:21 am

        I’m only just up to Burns getting out. He still looked a bit suspect against the short ball but he values his wicket and I like that. I also like Denly (I’m a sucker for a comeback story) and I can see why the selectors seem so keen for him to succeed.


  6. quebecer Nov 21, 2019 / 2:35 am

    Got to say, Root’s dismissal – while nothing to do with trigger movements – was ridiculous. That’s one of the worst dismissals I’ve seen for ages.

    Nothing ball, Root goes back and dab/late cuts it straight to 2nd slip. The clearest example of a batman giving slip catching practice you will ever see.


    • dlpthomas Nov 21, 2019 / 3:47 am

      God, what an awful shot. He’s wasted a huge opportunity to go big.


  7. dArthez Nov 21, 2019 / 4:06 am

    Good thing England won th e toss. New Zealand have not lost at home after winning the toss for more than a decade.


    • dlpthomas Nov 21, 2019 / 5:05 am

      There’s a lot of runs in this pitch. I’d be unhappy with anything less than 400


  8. quebecer Nov 21, 2019 / 4:42 am

    That Wagner’s good value. Good to watch.

    P.S. Can’t post more for jinxing reasons.


  9. quebecer Nov 21, 2019 / 5:34 am

    OK, end of play, couldn’t comment before because Denly and Stokes were batting so beautifully.

    That was a really good day’s play. Lovely batting conditions, but a talented and all around strong Kiwi attack. Can’t blame our top three today, and the only really bad dismissal was Root. (I’m going to admit Sibley’s dismissal is a cause for concern – fingers crossed, hope not).

    But Stokes and Denly really did bat beautifully, and there were some excellent contests throughout. While Stokes got the better of Wagner, in the end Southee just got the better of Denly. Really good day to watch.


    • metatone Nov 21, 2019 / 5:57 am

      Trying to stay optimistic re: Sibley, I think (hope!) some of it was nerves. I’ve seen bowlers try that line in CC and him be much calmer about it, so I’m not ready to call it a fundamental weakness yet.


  10. Rohan Nov 21, 2019 / 2:26 pm

    Yes Sean I agree, less T20 and more tests please. Just wait until we have international 100, T20 and ODI matches to fit in before tests 🤦‍♂️🤮…..

    Interesting score, not managed to watch any play yet, but see Aggers is happy they batted cautiously but complaining they weren’t busy enough, running singles etc.


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