New Zealand start clear underdogs
England were extremely lucky to escape with a drawn series in New Zealand earlier this year, but they'll still start as firm favourites in the return leg, which starts at Lord's on May 16. Conditions are likely to be seamer-friendly in the early part of England's summer, and while both teams have the bowlers to exploit those conditions, England's batting looks more equipped to handle seam and swing.
New Zealand's recent record in England doesn't inspire much confidence either. In Tests between the two teams since 2000, New Zealand have been very competitive against England at home: they have a 2-3 win-loss record, with four draws. In England, though, they've lost five out of six Tests, including a defeat by an innings and 9 runs in their last Test in the country, at Trent Bridge in 2008.
In their last two series in England, New Zealand struggled with both bat and ball. They scored more runs than England, but that's only because four of England's five wins have been by wickets, when they've scored a run more than the opposition. In the drawn Test at Lord's in 2008, New Zealand batted twice to England's once. In all, New Zealand have scored 249 more runs than England in these six Tests, but their batsmen have also played 39 more innings. Hence, though they've gone past 50 almost as many times as England's batsmen, the rate of doing so is much poorer. England's batsmen have scored a century every 11 innings; for New Zealand, the rate has been one every 25 innings.
|Tests||Eng won||NZ won||Drawn|
|In England since 2000||6||5||0||1|
|Team||Tests||Innings||Runs||Bat Ave||100s/ 50s||Wickets||Strike rate|
|New Zealand||6||127||3050||29.11||5/ 15||72||76.6|
England's problem has been their form over the last year and a half. None of their batsmen have averaged 50 (though there are a few in the 40s), while the best bowling average is barely below 30. In terms of batting averages, the best is Matt Prior's 47.30. Among the specialist batsmen Alastair Cook's 46.41 is the best, while Jonathan Trott averaged 41.51. Ian Bell, though, has been a disappointment, averaging less than 35 in 30 innings. Of the 24 times he has been dismissed, nine have been for scores of ten or fewer.
Among the bowlers, Graeme Swann is the leading wicket-taker with 59 at 29.93, while Anderson and Broad have averaged a touch over 30. Tim Bresnan has been the biggest disappointment during this period, with 16 wickets from eight Tests at 55.43.
|Alastair Cook||34||1439||46.41||5/ 3|
|Jonathan Trott||33||1287||41.51||3/ 7|
|Kevin Pietersen||28||1138||42.14||3/ 5|
|Matt Prior||27||1088||47.30||1/ 8|
|Ian Bell||30||825||34.37||1/ 7|
|Nick Compton||13||440||40.00||2/ 1|
|Jonny Bairstow||9||205||25.62||0/ 2|
|Joe Root||7||181||30.16||0/ 1|
|Graeme Swann||14||59||29.93||3/ 1|
|James Anderson||17||58||30.79||1/ 0|
|Stuart Broad||14||51||31.70||3/ 1|
|Monty Panesar||9||38||31.81||4/ 1|
|Steven Finn||8||30||34.06||1/ 0|
|Tim Bresnan||8||16||55.43||0/ 0|
New Zealand's top-order batting has been a problem too. Their middle-order - No.3 to No.6 - has averaged 31.76 since the beginning of 2011, the lowest among all sides. In 20 Tests they've only managed six hundreds. England's middle order has averaged 40.67 during this period, with 15 hundreds in 26 Tests.
And then there's England's record at Lord's. Before their defeat to South Africa last year, England had won six of their last seven Tests, most of them by huge margins. New Zealand achieved their first win at the ground in 1999, in their 13th attempt, but they lost by seven wickets in 2004.
As the two tables below show, England's batting and the bowling have been pretty impressive at Lord's. They'll miss Kevin Pietersen, especially at this ground, given his stats here: in 14 Tests Pietersen has scored five hundreds and averages 61.40. Bell averages 61 too, while Trott has done even better, averaging 74 from six Tests.
The bowlers have done well too, with their four frontline bowlers (excluding Bresnan) all averaging less than 30. Steven Finn has been especially impressive, taking 25 wickets in four Tests at 21.44. Bresnan is the only one among the current lot who's struggled, taking five wickets in three Tests at 66.
|Alastair Cook||14||1088||47.30||3/ 7|
|Ian Bell||12||920||61.33||3/ 6|
|Matt Prior||10||762||54.42||3/ 3|
|Jonathan Trott||6||740||74.00||2/ 4|
|Stuart Broad||9||518||47.09||1/ 3|
|James Anderson||12||51||28.27||3/ 0|
|Stuart Broad||9||39||29.56||1/ 1|
|Graeme Swann||8||31||26.51||1/ 0|
|Steven Finn||4||25||21.44||1/ 0|
Among the batsmen in New Zealand's current squad, only Taylor and McCullum have played Tests in England. Taylor scored a century at Old Trafford, an unbeaten 154, though he didn't top 21 in any of his other five innings. McCullum's scored four fifties in 12 innings, with a highest of 97, but his average is only 34.33. New Zealand will want more from their top two batsmen if they are to provide the kind of challenge they did in the home series against England.
|Ross Taylor||3||243||48.60||1/ 0|
|Brendon McCullum||6||412||34.33||0/ 4|
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter