England v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's May 14, 2013

England aim for swing in fortunes


Having dealt with the Higgs Boson, perhaps the scientists at CERN can turn their attentions to the mysteries of swing. England attacks usually know their way around the subject - and in James Anderson they have one of the finest swing bowlers in the world - but they struggled to make the ball talk in New Zealand over the winter and Stuart Broad has admitted they need to re-establish their credentials when the return series begins at Lord's on Thursday.

While Anderson, Broad and Steven Finn were not comprehensively outbowled over the three Tests in New Zealand, they had been expected to pose more questions for a supposedly fragile batting line-up. Neil Wagner, the leading wicket-taker, and Trent Boult, the only frontline bowler to average under 30, got more out of pitches that were on the slow side and, as England scrapped their way to a draw in Auckland, the difference between the two sides in being able to manipulate the ball was marked.

Broad was England's best bowler in New Zealand, with 11 wickets (one fewer than Wagner, the same as Boult) at 31.72, providing encouragement after he struggled with an injured heel on the tour of India. England tend to win when their swinging - particularly at home - and Broad admitted it was something the attack would be attempting to rectify, starting at Lord's with a Dukes ball in hand.

"Regardless of what New Zealand did, as a bowling unit we didn't swing the ball," Broad said. "So that is something that needs to be looked at and we have looked at. But it's not something we're too concerned about because we need to focus on this series and we're arriving at Lord's, which when it's cloudy it does swing around and we have got the best swing bowler in the world in Jimmy.

"We know we can bowl a lot better than [in] New Zealand. Regardless of whether you're moving the ball, you can still put six balls in the right area and we probably didn't do that as a unit consistently. That's something we want to put into place this summer and that starts here on Thursday. It's about the discipline of the bowling unit and building pressure together.

"We've all got good experience bowling here at Lord's and I think we've got a good record as a team here. It's something we have looked at, the reasons why - we don't want to panic too much but we didn't move the ball as much as we wanted to on what were slow, placid wickets. If it doesn't swing for us and we don't move it off the street this week we might be having a few panic meetings."

If there have been no panic meetings - hardly the style of the captain, Alastair Cook - there may have been one or two gentle pats on the backside in training. England were accused of complacency in New Zealand, of turning up and expecting to win, and while that has been denied by the players, Geoff Miller, the national selector, said the tour had provided a reminder that the team could not just "go through the motions".

After a frustrating second half of 2012, Broad has more reason than most to seek the heat of battle. With Finn's somewhat indifferent early season form - his place could come under threat from Tim Bresnan - a Broad resurgence would be timely for England, in a year of Ashes ubiquity. Even if this series is an amuse-bouche to the summer's main event, his talk of "not relaxing into Test matches" and landing "the first punch" against New Zealand will perhaps provide encouragement that England's intensity will not desert them again.

"As a team we certainly won't underestimate anything they can do," Broad said. "We know they're fighters, we know they're a tough team and we know that we have to be very disciplined to compete with them and to beat them. This week we've had a lot of meetings about our focus as a team, how we want to play our cricket. You'll see a really focused team coming out on Thursday, determined to put on some good performances, to throw the first punch, to make sure the first three days are our days, the first hour is our hour, not relaxing into Test matches and chasing the game."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on May 15, 2013, 22:16 GMT

    I am with Meety on this re:Bracewell. I also have seen him live & this guy can swing a ball & at some pace. @maximum6. Bracewell would be as quick as most of the English bowlers, & if memory serves me correct, Terry Alderman in 2 tours to England snared 42 & 41 wickets in series bowling at about 130kph, The Kiwi bowling should not be underestimated. Looking forward to the series. As plucky as the Kiwi batsman are, they are still behind (on rankings & stats) with their counterparts, so to write off the English batsmen is foolish.

  • gurinder on May 15, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    overrated tims and broads will be ruthlessly exposed by good nz middle order batsmen just like in nz. want nz to win 2-0 and climb above pak and sl in rankings, they deserve better ranking. come on wagner and boult and other quicks , obliterate english batting as if they are newbies. win 2-0 and whitewash the series.

  • ian on May 15, 2013, 15:48 GMT

    Go on, humour me! Change less for fewer. You know you should or do you know betterer than me?

  • John on May 15, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    @Yogi108 on (May 15, 2013, 12:08 GMT) Would you not call Trott above average? He currently averages very slightly more than KP and AC so surely that either means he is also above average or KP and AC are also below average - no?

  • damien on May 15, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    Oh my is England struggling for depth? When people start saying Anderson is the best swing bowler in the world(Steyn? what, if you are quick and swing it you dont count?)If a bowler who averages 30 odd is your trump card you are in BIG trouble.The kiwis will stretch England to the limit and then we will hear the inevitable "this is the wake up call we needed pre ashes" comments. I can almost hear @FFL and @rednwhite telling their mates "see this is why we were so loud and full of crap, we had to make the most of it in the short time we were second best otherwise we will miss the boat to brag while we are almost a good side"LOL .

  • Rob on May 15, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    valvolux I agree Broad is sometimes frustrating in particular when he bangs it in short too much BUT I would take him over Ishant Sharma (new ball bowler) any day of the week; he bowled fantastically in the UAE last year and I think he got a hatrick against India last time we played them at homes. Personally I would have liked to have seen Woakes in for the NZ series and if he had shone for the Ashes, he will probably get a shout in 5 years or so.

  • achint on May 15, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    I think nz will win d series 1-0. they are the favourites and after performing so well at home, eng needs to panic

  • Dummy4 on May 15, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    What? Jonathan Trott averages 50 in Tests cricket, Bell 46. Swann is one of the top 2 spiiners in the world. Fairly average? And we'll see how "average" Joe Root is this summer, I reckon.

  • Yogesh on May 15, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    Hopefully, the Kiwis will do well in England too. A great result (for neutral fans of cricket) would be 1-0 in favor of NZ, with the other Tests being closely fought draws. Other than Cook, Pietersen and Matt Prior, the English team is fairly average. Jimmy Anderson is a decent bowler, Broad is decidedly over-rated. The other bowlers are ok on their day and given the right conditions.

  • jared on May 15, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    Well Gagg we didn't agree much on the last article but i agree with you about the mix of our bowling line up, 3 swing bowlers is a bit over the top, you're looking for a new bond and warne, well they arn't that good yet but the potential is definately there with bevan small, he's not as quick as milne but not by much he's about 140-145km but way more accurate, as for the spinner ish sohdi is a freakish talent, dont look at their first class stats alone, they wont be that flash yet, look them up on you tube and watch what they do with the ball especially sohdi, these two can bowl wicket taking deliveries. The best 4 specialist bowlers to take into a test are the two swing men (southee, boult) the quick (small) and the attacking spinner (sohdi) hopefully next summers line up.

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