Opening worries for New Zealand
After having come from behind to win the three-Test series in New Zealand, England will start off as favourites in the return leg, which kicks off on Thursday. New Zealand are likely to be severely hampered by the lack of experience in their side: after Stephen Fleming's retirement, their squad has 11 players out of 16 who haven't played a Test in England.
New Zealand's overall Test record against England doesn't look too good either, with just eight wins in 91 Tests, but in recent years they've had more success: half their wins have come in the last 15 matches. The relative lack of batting strength for both teams, and the bowler-friendly conditions in both countries, also means plenty of results and very few draws of late - 13 of the last 15 Tests have ended decisively. S
In England, the home team has a 25-4 advantage, but New Zealand have closed the gap over the last couple of decades, winning two of the last five series. The last time the two teams met here, though, it was a rout, with England sweeping to victories in each of the three Tests in 2004. (Click here for the series-wise results.)
|Tests||Eng won||NZ won||Draw|
|Last 15 Tests||15||9||4||2|
Most of the England batsmen have had a fairly good time against the New Zealand attack, but the one player who desperately needs runs is their captain. In 15 innings against them, Michael Vaughan has a highest of 63 and an average of 22.53. New Zealand has clearly been a bogey team for him: among all sides against whom he has played at least four Tests, New Zealand is the only one which has restricted him to less than 30 runs per innings.
|Ian Bell||3||250||50.00||1/ 1|
|Andrew Strauss||6||547||45.58||2/ 2|
|Kevin Pietersen||3||259||43.16||1/ 0|
|Paul Collingwood||3||244||40.67||0/ 3|
|Tim Ambrose||3||204||34.00||1/ 1|
|Alastair Cook||3||194||32.33||0/ 1|
|Michael Vaughan||8||338||22.53||0/ 2|
With conditions likely to favour swing and seam bowling in the early part of the English summer, New Zealand could well have their hands full in trying to combat Ryan Sidebottom. The last time the two sides met, Sidebottom feasted himself to 24 wickets from three Tests, including match figures of 10 for 139 in Hamilton.
|Ryan Sidebottom||3||24||17.08||3/ 1|
|Monty Panesar||3||11||30.18||1/ 0|
|Stuart Broad||2||8||31.25||0/ 0|
|Matthew Hoggard||7||27||34.74||1/ 0|
|James Anderson||2||8||35.37||1/ 0|
Kyle Mills has performed well in a stop-start Test career, but Daniel Vettori's form with the ball against England has been almost as disappointing as his rival captain's batting form against New Zealand: in 14 Tests, Vettori has only taken 33 wickets. The recent stats for spinners at Lord's could further discourage him - in the last ten Tests here, spinners average 45.50 runs per wicket; the fast bowlers have done better, taking 238 wickets at 37.02.
|Kyle Mills||3||10||25.30||0/ 0|
|Tim Southee||1||5||27.80||1/ 0|
|Jacob Oram||5||10||33.10||0/ 0|
|Daniel Vettori||14||33||40.15||0/ 0|
|Chris Martin||7||19||41.89||0/ 0|
New Zealand have struggled with their batting over the last few years, and the problem has been especially acute at the top of the order since Mark Richardson retired. Since 2005, 12 different pairs have been tried out, but in 38 innings, they've only managed a combined average of 22.32, with a highest partnership of 61. The last time New Zealand posted a century stand for the first wicket was nearly four years ago, when they last toured England in 2004. Fleming and Richardson added 163 at Trent Bridge, and then put together 94 in the second innings, but since that match, New Zealand have gone 44 innings without a century stand for the opening wicket. At Lord's, though, Aaron Redmond and Jamie How might have a better chance: in the last ten Tests at this venue, openers average 50.94 per partnership, with 13 fifty-plus stands in 36 innings.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo