England in New Zealand, 2012-13 March 4, 2013

England must take New Zealand seriously

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New Zealand is a country of adrenalin-fuelled adventure sports, but the expectation is that the Test series that starts in Dunedin on Wednesday will not get pulses racing in the same way. In fact, there have been plenty of suggestions that all England need to do to bag a 3-0 whitewash is to turn up. There has just been the odd hint of disquiet from the New Zealand viewpoint that this is being treated as an Ashes warm-up. The New Zealand XI victory in the tour game in Queenstown has not gone unnoticed.

New Zealand's recent Test form is leading to the low expectations but perhaps it should not be taken as so black and white. They are not the only team to have been recently bowled out for under 50 by South Africa; the match before that they beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka to level a series (the same result England managed). They are now back on home soil, after extensive periods touring, which should make them feel more comfortable.

England begin as clear favourites. That is usually the way when they tour here but history is littered with examples of the challenge having proved harder than expected. Last time, in 2008, they lost in Hamilton by 189 runs, getting humbled on the final day by Kyle Mills and Chris Martin. In 2002 they went into the final Test, in Auckland, with a 1-0 lead and despite the match being badly hit by rain lost by 78 runs. Although Michael Atherton's team were ultimately 2-0 winners in 1997 they had to overcome the embarrassment of being defied by Danny Morrison in the first Test.

This time, led by the combative Brendon McCullum, New Zealand are far from so hopeless that England can ignore the immediate challenge. Clearly, the recent problems surrounding the shockingly handled change of captaincy have destabilised the team - rumours of differences in the dressing room persist, although New Zealand aren't alone in that - but McCullum is a single-minded leader who faces his task head on.

From England's point of view, anything less than a 2-0 scoreline (there is a chance of rain at some point, not least in Dunedin) will be a disappointment. Having put their Test game back on track in India after a difficult 2012 they now need to redevelop that ruthless edge which characterised their play during 2011.

After the upheavals of last summer - Kevin Pietersen's problems and the retirement of Andrew Strauss - the team has been stabilised. Nine of the first-choice XI for Test cricket are set in stone; the two areas for debate are the third fast-bowling slot and the long-term opening partner for Alastair Cook.

Stuart Broad looks set to return to support James Anderson and Steven Finn, but doubts remain over how much long-form cricket he will be able to play as he attempts to manage his heel problem. It seems inconceivable that he will be able to go through such a full programme this year - 14 Tests, with a 15th in January 2014 - without another break. Beyond him, too, there are now a few more questions about the depth of what follows than had previously been thought.

Nick Compton will retain his position alongside Cook and he deserves the opportunity to build on his hard work in India. At 29, he still has time to forge a lengthy Test career but he needs to show he can do more than purely blunt the new ball.

As odd as it may sound considering the considerable averages of most of England's top order, New Zealand should feel they have a chance to make early inroads. Compton and Pietersen are short of time in the middle and Jonathan Trott has not been quite at his best. And in the opposite corner the home side have, amid all the problems, formed a decent pace attack.

"From England's point of view, anything less than a 2-0 scoreline will be a disappointment. Having put their Test game back on track in India after a difficult 2012 they now need to redevelop that ruthless edge which characterised their play during 2011"

Tim Southee is back to lead the line and has matured into a consistent swing bowler. His success in Sri Lanka, where he took 12 wickets in two Tests, was the mark of someone entering his peak. Doug Bracewell, fitness permitting, can produce incisive spells while Trent Boult, as long as he doesn't drop it short, can swing the new ball. Neil Wagner also caused England problems in Queenstown.

In turn, though, New Zealand's batting will be severely tested, especially by Anderson's swing and Finn's pace. They will have a new-look opening pair - likely to be Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton - and it has been a while since the side have been given consistent starts. Four of the last six first-wicket stands have been single figure (albeit three of them came against Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander) and the last hundred opening partnership was 12 Tests ago in January 2012 against Zimbabwe; the last against a major nation another four Tests before that.

The middle order, however, offers the hope of something better. Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, McCullum, Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling has a solid ring about it, although there is an argument that McCullum should be at No. 3 to allow Williamson to develop lower down. Watling, and to a lesser extent, Brownlie impressed for New Zealand XI in Queenstown, McCullum is in strong form and Taylor's hundred in the Napier ODI has put him back on track.

The public also need a team they are pulled into watching. Unlike with the rugby union side, there is not the expectation, or demand, that they will bring home the major prizes but neither is embarrassment accepted. New Zealand Test cricket desperately needs some good news over the next three weeks. A series win, though, would verge on miraculous.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kentjones on March 5, 2013, 2:08 GMT

    Really good article by Andy McG. NZ are certainly no pushovers and must be given respect and attention. I have been following their recent encounters with great interest. NZ have certainly got their groove back and the worst any opposing side can do is to underrate them as a team. The world expects to see a NZ team that fights doggedly tooth and nail through every phase of their matches and scrap for every possible advantage. NZ have made cricket a true contest between bat and ball and give no regard to rankings. I anticipate a good contest here.

  • Baxter_P on March 5, 2013, 1:35 GMT

    England will in all likelihood win, but I absolutely think NZ will compete. England have a few potential issues, most of which McGlashan alludes to. Cook and Bell aside, the batting is not unbeatable: Trott doesn't seem to be in his best form; KP and Compton both failed twice in Queenstown; and Root is a Test rookie. As for the bowling, Anderson and Finn pose a massive threat (and could skittle NZ very cheaply), but Broad hasn't bowled particularly well on tour and Swann has been innocuous as well. Of course, they could all step up at smash NZ 3-0 very easily, but there is enough possible 'weak' points (it's all relative) for NZ to make a contest of it, particularly if at least 1-2 of our batsmen step up (and we know Ross, Kane and Brendon certainly can on their day) and Southee carries on his recent Test form.

  • Mitty2 on March 6, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    as an aussie, hoping for a complete upset from NZ to gain some consolation and respite from the terrible selections and the terrible performance of the indian series. unfortunately, with the sheer differential of talent and experience (btwn NZ and eng), this will not happen without england becoming complacent and/or arrogant.

    And to be perfectly honest, i'd much prefer for england to win 3-0 in this series than lose it. As then, the complacency could possibly come into the actual ashes series, especially with the hyperbole and arrogance provided by the team and the english media (Michael Vaughan and matt prior anyone?)

    with england having lost more tests than australia since the ashes, despite their supporters advocating 'superior talent' in the english line up, they have been outshone by many teams (SL, SA and pak), and some of this has been due to complaceny. So you think theyd have learnt their lessons and would respect their opponents more, but historically, this hasnt happened.

  • JG2704 on March 5, 2013, 21:11 GMT

    Disappointed for Swann - Good luck to Monty

    May be a good toss for NZ to win with the overhead conditions

  • JG2704 on March 5, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    @landl47 on (March 5, 2013, 18:13 GMT) I repeat - as I did before re 5/1/5 - our best series result in decades was our 2005 Ashes win in which we used that formation. And as I have said before , that formation became 6/1/4 when S Jones got injured and Collingwood came in and not because it wasn't working. Would you say a 6 and 7 of Prior and Woakes would be inferior to Flintoff and G Jones? Obviously Woakes has much to prove but does he look any less likely than Flintoff at this stage of their respective careers - with bat or ball. The other thing is 5/1/5 would lighten the workloads of the pacers which would mean the bowlers would more likely always be fresher and may limit injuries/burnout. I'm just waiting for the day when one of our pacers breaks down when playing a 3 paceman attack. Anyway , they'll never do it - just like they'll not drop any of their golden boys when in bad form

  • on March 5, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    Good morning New Zealand. First "morning" of a test series - first cricket on the TV since last summer where the commentators are there. Previous run and giggle, all day pyjama games over. Game on!

  • landl47 on March 5, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    @Si Baker: although you put your point well as always, aren't you being a bit selective? England's last Ashes tour was a pretty good win for England and they used only four bowlers. D'Oliveira, great batsman though he was, bowled little wobblers like Collingwood, whom you couldn't call an allrounder. On the other hand, England got thrashed between 1989 and 2005, during which time they tried repeatedly to play with 5 bowlers by including bits and pieces cricketers who weren't worth their place in either discipline.

    Woakes is a promising (still only 23) young player and I've been impressed with the improvements in his game in the last year. However, he isn't as good a bowler as Broad yet and certainly not as good a bat as anyone in England's top 6. Playing him just because he does both will not work until he is good enough to hold his place as a specialist in at least one discipline. As of now, he'd be the bowler I'd bring in if one of the top 3 was injured, not otherwise.

  • CricketMaan on March 5, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    How i wish Ryder was in that line up, could have spiced up a lil bit

  • NostroGustro on March 5, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    If we can negotiate Anderson and Finn (no easy job!), I feel Broad and Swann can be dealt with reasonably comfortably. This gives me a faint glimmer of hope that one or two in the top seven can contribute a decent score. Then as mentioned, despite the potential of the England top seven, I feel there are chinks in the armour that the bowling contingent can exploit. Wishful thinking perhaps as this English team has proven ability whereas we rarely deliver on promise. Can't wait though!

  • blanket22 on March 5, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    9 out of 11 being set in stone! I think it is 8 out of 11 as Root has played 1 test match!

  • kentjones on March 5, 2013, 2:08 GMT

    Really good article by Andy McG. NZ are certainly no pushovers and must be given respect and attention. I have been following their recent encounters with great interest. NZ have certainly got their groove back and the worst any opposing side can do is to underrate them as a team. The world expects to see a NZ team that fights doggedly tooth and nail through every phase of their matches and scrap for every possible advantage. NZ have made cricket a true contest between bat and ball and give no regard to rankings. I anticipate a good contest here.

  • Baxter_P on March 5, 2013, 1:35 GMT

    England will in all likelihood win, but I absolutely think NZ will compete. England have a few potential issues, most of which McGlashan alludes to. Cook and Bell aside, the batting is not unbeatable: Trott doesn't seem to be in his best form; KP and Compton both failed twice in Queenstown; and Root is a Test rookie. As for the bowling, Anderson and Finn pose a massive threat (and could skittle NZ very cheaply), but Broad hasn't bowled particularly well on tour and Swann has been innocuous as well. Of course, they could all step up at smash NZ 3-0 very easily, but there is enough possible 'weak' points (it's all relative) for NZ to make a contest of it, particularly if at least 1-2 of our batsmen step up (and we know Ross, Kane and Brendon certainly can on their day) and Southee carries on his recent Test form.

  • Mitty2 on March 6, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    as an aussie, hoping for a complete upset from NZ to gain some consolation and respite from the terrible selections and the terrible performance of the indian series. unfortunately, with the sheer differential of talent and experience (btwn NZ and eng), this will not happen without england becoming complacent and/or arrogant.

    And to be perfectly honest, i'd much prefer for england to win 3-0 in this series than lose it. As then, the complacency could possibly come into the actual ashes series, especially with the hyperbole and arrogance provided by the team and the english media (Michael Vaughan and matt prior anyone?)

    with england having lost more tests than australia since the ashes, despite their supporters advocating 'superior talent' in the english line up, they have been outshone by many teams (SL, SA and pak), and some of this has been due to complaceny. So you think theyd have learnt their lessons and would respect their opponents more, but historically, this hasnt happened.

  • JG2704 on March 5, 2013, 21:11 GMT

    Disappointed for Swann - Good luck to Monty

    May be a good toss for NZ to win with the overhead conditions

  • JG2704 on March 5, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    @landl47 on (March 5, 2013, 18:13 GMT) I repeat - as I did before re 5/1/5 - our best series result in decades was our 2005 Ashes win in which we used that formation. And as I have said before , that formation became 6/1/4 when S Jones got injured and Collingwood came in and not because it wasn't working. Would you say a 6 and 7 of Prior and Woakes would be inferior to Flintoff and G Jones? Obviously Woakes has much to prove but does he look any less likely than Flintoff at this stage of their respective careers - with bat or ball. The other thing is 5/1/5 would lighten the workloads of the pacers which would mean the bowlers would more likely always be fresher and may limit injuries/burnout. I'm just waiting for the day when one of our pacers breaks down when playing a 3 paceman attack. Anyway , they'll never do it - just like they'll not drop any of their golden boys when in bad form

  • on March 5, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    Good morning New Zealand. First "morning" of a test series - first cricket on the TV since last summer where the commentators are there. Previous run and giggle, all day pyjama games over. Game on!

  • landl47 on March 5, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    @Si Baker: although you put your point well as always, aren't you being a bit selective? England's last Ashes tour was a pretty good win for England and they used only four bowlers. D'Oliveira, great batsman though he was, bowled little wobblers like Collingwood, whom you couldn't call an allrounder. On the other hand, England got thrashed between 1989 and 2005, during which time they tried repeatedly to play with 5 bowlers by including bits and pieces cricketers who weren't worth their place in either discipline.

    Woakes is a promising (still only 23) young player and I've been impressed with the improvements in his game in the last year. However, he isn't as good a bowler as Broad yet and certainly not as good a bat as anyone in England's top 6. Playing him just because he does both will not work until he is good enough to hold his place as a specialist in at least one discipline. As of now, he'd be the bowler I'd bring in if one of the top 3 was injured, not otherwise.

  • CricketMaan on March 5, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    How i wish Ryder was in that line up, could have spiced up a lil bit

  • NostroGustro on March 5, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    If we can negotiate Anderson and Finn (no easy job!), I feel Broad and Swann can be dealt with reasonably comfortably. This gives me a faint glimmer of hope that one or two in the top seven can contribute a decent score. Then as mentioned, despite the potential of the England top seven, I feel there are chinks in the armour that the bowling contingent can exploit. Wishful thinking perhaps as this English team has proven ability whereas we rarely deliver on promise. Can't wait though!

  • blanket22 on March 5, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    9 out of 11 being set in stone! I think it is 8 out of 11 as Root has played 1 test match!

  • JG2704 on March 5, 2013, 15:19 GMT

    @Rabies on (March 4, 2013, 23:52 GMT) I agree that SA seemed to have pulled away somewhat in the rankings but results don't always work that way. For one you have to take into consideration the weather and I believe they (SA) had no chance of winning one of the tests and the other drawn test I felt SA were unambitious in their declaration. Had the series been uninterrupted by weather the chances are SA would have won 3-0 Australia got the better of SA in 2 of the tests (something Eng did not do) , so that should surely mean that because Eng just won in India and Aus were better than Eng vs SA , that Aus would breeze through India - right?

  • subbass on March 5, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    Said all along this would be a hard series. Too many England fans WERE expecting an easy win. Well, they are not saying that now, I would not be surprised to see a 1-1 draw in truth. And although there will be people who think that is a poor result, I think it is about 'par' so to speak. If Broad and Swann were fully fit perhaps I would be more confident. But they are not and Finny has had his injury issues. If England start well then they ought to be ok mind you. You would not see much way back for NZ if England go 1-0 up in Dunedin.

    Still, perhaps England losing the warm up game is a blessing in disguise, it will hopefully sharpen the mind. because there is no doubt that if England play well they win.

  • bumsonseats on March 5, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    if they prepare the right wicket then NZ have a chance. if the wicket is similar to the test they beat the Australians on, then thats the way to go. the tests in india have proved that you can put any wicket to play on and not brought before the icc. the only thing i would say do NZ want 5 days revenue or the chance of winning or loosing a test in 3 days.

  • AKS286 on March 5, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    @Posted by alwaysindia on (March 5, 2013, 7:44 GMT) Fella Eng is the 2nd best test team in the World. and also in india without spinner or African Deadly Barrage winning is a day dream because india prepares a pitch in which from the first ball of the match it spins. Pitch means favorable for pace & spin not only for one. Look no doubt Ajamal is the best bowler in all format but Swann is the 2nd best spinner. UAE pitch is also day 1 spin pitch and the environmental conditions(heat) are also causes difficulties-- Not an excuse its true. before Aus series Indian fans & experts told that Harbhajan & Ojha is the best combination along with Jadeja. because Ashwin's performance was very poor against Eng & during Aus tour also.

  • py0alb on March 5, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Are there any teams in test cricket that are pushovers at home? I don't think there are. This is not playing Bangladesh in May on a green Lords track (which almost seems a bit unfair); this is New Zealand in New Zealand in conditions that they will be far more in tune with than us. I'd be pleased with any series win.

    I don't think anyone is underestimating the challenge it will be for the England batting lineup to switch from trial by spin in dry and dusty Indian conditions to green seamers' pitches with only one warmup match against a top quality pace bowling attack.

  • on March 5, 2013, 11:01 GMT

    It's quite funny seeing all the articles and comments speculating how strong or weak NZ actually are. England just need to focus on what they do, and no doubt that's what the team will be doing. NZ's loss in SA have nothing to do with England. Different opposition, different conditions, different time of the year with players in and out of form.

    Are English fans and the media going to do the same to Australia before the Ashes because they are getting annihilated by India? Are they going to form a general feeling that it's going to be a pushover and then right before the first test come up with articles about how England should actually take things seriously?

    They really should, if they want to be consistent, because that is exactly what they are doing to NZ now. Well let's just enjoy some good cricket from tomorrow onwards.

  • JG2704 on March 5, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    @alwaysindia on (March 5, 2013, 7:44 GMT) England have been a decent test team but I admit few would argue that SA are pulling away at the top right now. Yes England struggled in UAE and even SL and India and I think the most balanced Eng fan would not think that we have now conquered spin and I myself said on another thread the reason we beat India was more to do with the fact that India's spinners were not of the quality of Ajmal and co. We bowled well (when we used 2 spinners in tandem) - Even Swann. But thanks for your well constructed comments there and not the slightest bit predictable either - being 2nd in the world isn't too bad even if it's a step down from where we were a year ago

  • Tom_Bowler on March 5, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    On paper this should be comfortable for England but we have often started series slowly, we got sand bagged in the first Test last time we toured NZ and we've only had one first class tour game which we lost. My faith in Andy Flower is profound and I assume he is hammering these points home in the dressing room.

  • kiwicricketnut on March 5, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    I've been pretty harsh on nz cricket adminastration of late but the warm up game in queenstown was some good work on thier behalf. Sadly with this lot a stuff up is never far away, starved of international cricket in this country this summer and they host test matches in dunedin, the weather down there has too big a say, it would be one of the worst cricketing climates in the world, by all means host odi's and t20's there but 5 days of sun in a row in dunedin not likely. Sunny nelson would be a much better venue if you want tests in the south. Not sure of the extended forecast but go to the tab and bet on a draw the weather will make sure of it. More stupidity from nz cricket

  • alwaysindia on March 5, 2013, 7:44 GMT

    dont know what makes england think they are a very good test team . they won in india because india were awful and had lack of quality spinners. see what happened to them against ajmal , rehman and even herath. graeme swann is just another ordinary bowler( mostly took wickets of tailenders in india while panesar took top order wickets). sa is by far the best test team in the world.

  • on March 5, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    This series might not be an appetiser for the Ashes, but given the pitch & climatic conditions as well as the balance of the opposition - a brittle batting line-up with an attack heavily reliant on pace & swing - it's sure as hell a dress rehearsal. History doesn't lie, & history has shown that, apart from '10-11 - which was the exception that proved the rule - England's most significant Ashes victories over the past half century have been achieved with an all-rounder playing a pivotal role as part of a five-man attack: D'Oliveira in '70-71, Greig & Botham in '77, Botham in '78-79, '81, '85 & '86-87, & Flintoff in '05 & '09.

    Given that the Ashes itself is too fiery a crucible to blood a new all-rounder in, this is the ideal opportunity to give Chris Woakes his head as a fourth seamer batting below Prior at Seven. Although Nick Compton's done little wrong, one batsman has to make way in order to accommodate an all-rounder, so, long-term, Root for Compton seems like the ideal way to go.

  • vandedipre on March 5, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    No England... don't take New Zealand seriously. (SA supporter)

  • matchfixerpkn on March 5, 2013, 7:04 GMT

    england may not be look best yet..but time will prove it.... they are the most balanced side in world cricket now..they have batsman who can play fast and spin comfortably and with dominationa and have good swing bowler and descent seam bowlers and best 2 spinners ..(recent test series in indian is example).. same time ..india/srilanka/pakistan are clue less in bouncy/swinging pitches of australia/s afrcia /england..they dnt have batsman to score runs in these conditon or fast bowler to take wikcets..(india/srilnaka/paksitans 3 recent white wahs in africa/england /asutralia are examples ).. similar way asutraila/ sfrican have no idea how to play spinners or have no batsman who can even face part time spinners in sub continent..or they dnt have any spinners who can even rattle subcontinent tail handers... (on going india - australia series is best example ... and next s africa - pakistan series in u.a.e will be in similar fashion...)

  • matchfixerpkn on March 5, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    will england make me their coach for ashes series ..i m confirming you 100 % ..5-0 victory .. :).. no where on earth this asutraian squad cant beat england with monty / penesar ..

  • YorkshirePudding on March 5, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    @Nathan Bell, 5 years ago I would have agreed with your statment regarding Vettori, however in recent times hes started to decline, and as far as im aware has been injured since last year.

    The series is going to be interesting England should hold the edge, but NZ (like zimbabwe under Flower circa early 90's) have a big reputation for punching above their weight and could cause a few wobbles and nervous moments for us england fans.

  • on March 5, 2013, 3:52 GMT

    Lets be honest Kiwi fans. Our bowlers will be there or thereabouts throughout this series (as they always have been over the years). However the batting will inevitably be inadequate with the 'usual senior suspects' (McCullum, Taylor) grossly under performing. That's been the pattern of our performances since the 90s and it hasn't changed, or if anything its gotten worse. As a result, unless rain comes to the rescue we will lose every test. Until NZ batsmen develop a spine/ability to stay out in the middle for hours (not minutes) we will not compete with any of the top tier cricketing nations.

  • on March 5, 2013, 3:28 GMT

    Bizzarly to be honest as a kiwi supporter and long time sufferer im more excited about our chances in the test series than the shorter forms of the game which we were always going to loose to a quality team, Untill the coach admits what we all know which is his batting order is wrong or Ryder returns anc can blaze away at the top. In the tests as mentioned we have a decent and effective bowling attack much like the ODI's ect but what we do have is a good lineup from 3 to 7 which is something we have not been able to say for a long time and the possibility of finding at least 1 opener. does need a few tweeks like cementing Brownlie and wattling at 6 and 7 which would mean that McCullum would go to 5 Until Ryder comes back to claim that spot then McCullum would go back to opening unless you put him at 3 and Williamson to open which i think hes more than capable of. W\L Reguardless its looking bright and as long as 1 opener succeeds and the rest have solid contributions and a few 100's

  • Liquefierrrr on March 5, 2013, 1:59 GMT

    I think the gap between Eng and NZ is far more considerable than a lot of the comments in this article suggest.

    As a passionate Australian supporter, with a back-to-back Ashes series looming, I am the first to admit that England are a comfortably better Test side than us presently.

    And Australia, an excellent win in Hobart by NZ notwithstanding, are a far better Test side than NZ. As shown in their recent and disastrous tour of SAF, NZ seem to get worse exponential to the length of the game. They are a powerful t20 side, a by-and-large competent ODI outfit, but a very inconsistent Test side.

    They have some proven world-class performers, Taylor, B McCullum and even Kane Richardson (in the ODI format), however lack a well-rounded batting lineup, a decent spinner (as does Aus), and lack variety and venom in the pace department.

    England have Cook, Pietersen, Bell and emerging talent like Compton and Root, the sturdy Prior with gloves, Swann and a solid pace quartet. Chalk v Cheese.

  • landl47 on March 5, 2013, 1:31 GMT

    Hopefully it will be a good series, played in a good spirit and with some exciting performances. NZ has some classy players and if they come off they'll make it very hard for England to win games, especially if there's rain about.

    The main challenge for England is to develop a real team spirit. That certainly appeared to be coming along during the Indian tour. Cook's a quiet man, but might be one of the most determined characters I've ever seen. If anyone can get everyone on the same page, he can.

    BTW, R_U_4_REAL_NICK, I don't think Woakes has disappointed so far, although I would have liked to see him make some more runs. His bowling action and pace have improved and for a player who is still young he seems to be coming on nicely. He's a very serviceable 3rd seamer/#7- Gnasher does tend to regard the glass as half empty.

  • su11y on March 5, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    @ real_gone_gadd. Jamie how hasn't had a look in for a good while now. If anything he would be more suited to the one-day side, he still has one of the better averages for a NZ one-day opener of recent times, not to mention skippys test average but thats another story! Redmond would have been in the running for the opening spot that Peter Fulton has been given, close call, Redmonds been in outstanding form. As for Flyn - did okay in Sri Lanka is seen to play spin better than Brownly. Flynn didn't take his chances in SA though. Brownlys regained his spot, probably justified, solid player, plays pace and bounce well (has played alot in Aus).

  • DaveMorton on March 5, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    You want the good news? It's that the game is actually played on the pitch, not on our keyboards. England start as favourites, just as India did before Christmas - nailed on 4-0, that was going to be. But there's not that much in it, player against player. Taylor would walk onto our team, and the best NZ quickie would surely get our 3rd seamer spot, at worst. The rest of the Kiwis are all decent players and have pride. We won the rugby match; it will be a lesser surprise if they win at cricket. I don't expect them to. But they could.

  • Rabies on March 4, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    Simple fact- England are not even close to SA right now- and should therefore not expect to do to NZ what the Saffers did- to expect that would be blind arrogance. I would be pleased if England put in a solid performance against a NZ side that has some talented players burning after their recent humbling SA experience, and never underestimate wounded pride. Of course England should win, and with relative comfort- but please don't fall into the trap of thinking we are as good as the SA side that just thumped NZ and Pakistan, we are some way off that- just play to the innate strength in the side and build the winning habit again...

  • HawK89 on March 4, 2013, 23:40 GMT

    What a joke. England should only take it seriously if they somehow get bowled out for their first innings, then they can win the game with their 2nd innings, otherwise look to see 3 days of cricket per match.

  • Fred_Housego on March 4, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    Andrew, why not make it clear that these suggestions about an easy 3-0 series win are coming from the press, and not the team?

    Your article implies that Andy Flower et al are not taking this series seriously. So where is your evidence of this?

  • Patchmaster on March 4, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    Such a shame that the 'backroom' culture of drinking / partying in the NZ squad has let us down again. Where is the management of these players - how does this happen over and over again. We are already missing Ryder through mis-management, and now Bracewell ! gggrrrr

  • RichDeGroen on March 4, 2013, 22:37 GMT

    for a reason I simply cannot explain I feel the slightest twinge of optimism about NZs chances in this series. Maybe I just ate something weird. Southee back, Taylor back, 2 openers who are actually openers... its starting to resemble a cricket side.

  • JG2704 on March 4, 2013, 21:55 GMT

    Have to agree more with CS and hhillbumper's comms although I hope it doesn't come across as disrespectful to NZ fans etc. SA took longer to become number 1 than they should have because - despite being extremely hard to beat - they were often drawing series they should have been winning or winning series by a solitary test which they should have been winning more comfortably. Now they are winning series which previously they'd be drawing (Aus being a good example) and winning series comfortably which before they may have just won by a solitary test (ref Pak)

  • real_gone_gadd on March 4, 2013, 20:24 GMT

    What happened to Jamie How, Aaron Redmond and Dan Flynn? Haven't heard a peep about them?

  • on March 4, 2013, 20:21 GMT

    @Nathan Bell No need to be so pedantic. We all know about Vettori but he isn't playing so we couldn't care less! Apart from him Taylor is the only player England would take into the team. Don't fool yourself because of the warm-up match. New Zealand will be annihilated in the tests proper.

  • hhillbumper on March 4, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    If England want to be number 1 then they quite simply have to destroy new Zealand.Anything less will be a poor show. The trouble with English sports teams is when they get their foot on someones throat they let it off.If you want to be the best then you have to destroy people.Lets see if England can achieve that

  • on March 4, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    @Steve2101 - About that county class spinner... We have a world class spinner thanks. His name is Dan Vettori. I'm pretty sure he would walk into every international team. Not just for his bowling, but his batting. He's been NZL's most consitent batsman over the last 5 years and has always been quality with the ball in hand. Just a shame he is injured. May just want to retract that comment. As for Broad... At this point in time, i would rather have Bracewell and Southee with the records in the last year thanks. Best be checking your stats up first before bluring away. Anderson, Finn and Swann are my concerns as a kiwi going into these tests.

  • AKS286 on March 4, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    Look win or loss by NZ, WI, Pak does't matter for any other team. These team can surprise any team but these teams never be a competitor or never be a challenger. Eng's B team should be send on these tours.

  • on March 4, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    Being an England fan I would hope that my team are never guilty of complacency and arrogance but I am sure they have been.i always cringe when you hear Mcgrath / Kholi type predictions as they are disrespectful and generally wrong!

  • Trickstar on March 4, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    England have in the past been guilty of playing down to their opponents level and making what should be relatively easy teats matches wins into hard slogs. I don't think England have had the best preparation with the likes of KP & Compton hardly playing in the last couple of months and they've only had one warm up game, while NZ are in the middle of their season, if this was one of the better sides they would have prepared more thoroughly. Also I'm a bit concerned Finn & Jimmy have had no red ball practice, which is essential for getting their line and length dialed in after played one day cricket. If NZ are going to pull some kind of upset it will be in this first test match where England are not at their peak, similarly to what happened in India and tbh England are not great i the first test of a series, think SA even the Ashes home & away. Over in NZ they have to start strong & hit them hard, let the NZ'ers know they are for a hard time. I reckon England will win 2-0.

  • Tigg on March 4, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    To be honest, I'd be keen on Onions getting a game in the first test. While his practice match form was poor so was that of many of the batsmen. Give him the confidence boost by picking him and let him have a go. When he played against the Windies he outbowled Finn and Bresnan and when in nick he is definitely in the top three seamers in the country.

    Broad has played a full OD and T20 series, so give him the first test or two off and bring him back only if needed.

    Compton, Cook*, Trott, KP, Bell, Root, Prior+, Swann, Anderson, Finn, Onions are the XI for me.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 4, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    I dunno, I'm kinda sitting on the fence here a bit. Whilst I totally agree that NZ are no push-overs (the warm-up match proved that!), I would still like England to experiment a bit - especially if they take an unassailable lead in the series. All eyes will be on a few England players to perform, and if they don't there are good players waiting in the wings. Yes Woakes and Onions for example have disappointed so far, but I would hate for this to be the end of the road for either of them. I would be very happy for this series to finish 2-1 to England, so long as certain players show some great form and maybe a few fringe players get a run and show (at least) some good potential.

  • Damo_s on March 4, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    NZ are not mugs, and there's no better team than England at letting underdogs play like world beaters. I suspect it will fairly evenly matched unless England stop mucking about and put in some serious performances. England can get away with being a little sloppy but still win, and no doubt thats what they will do. Hopefully our pacemen will endure a good work out to help build some form before the Ashes.

  • steve2101 on March 4, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Nice way to talk up NZ, Gnasher. You aren't a kiwi are you? Stuart Broad would open the bowling for NZ, easily and his place as England's 3rd seamer is under question. NZ don't have a county class spinner. I doubt if any of them would get into the England team: have you any suggestions? It will be a test of England's ruthlessness under a new captain and that's all.

  • Hammond on March 4, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    You should take every test match opposition seriously. Cricket is a strange game.

  • CricketingStargazer on March 4, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    @SamRoy Yes, England would take 1-0, but will be disappointed with anything less than 2-0. South Africa are powering away at the top of the ICC Test rankings and even a 1-0 win would see England slip back still further.

  • on March 4, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Andrew,nz can surely win but 4 dat we need taylor nd mccullumr 2 set xmples wid da bat nd captaincy respectively.tim southee needs 2 support c martin toroughly nd last but not da least find a place 4 dan vettori wer da hell is vett?????????? widout him it dosent seems dat inspiring 4 da kiwis.nways life shud always b flexible 2 adjustments nd da middle order as well esp kane wson shud step up nd perfom or else it wud b a 3-0 whitewash 4 da marauding englishman.......even though im not frm nz i wud luv seeing nz my future intrested country of residence 2 perform greatly in the longest form of da game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!all da best 4 da series kiwis!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • SamRoy on March 4, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Andrew, I am pretty certain England will take even a 1-0 series win. A series win is a series win, especially away, even SA were pretty happy with 1-0 result vs NZ early last year. They (England) wouldn't like to lose any test matches though

  • SamRoy on March 4, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Andrew, I am pretty certain England will take even a 1-0 series win. A series win is a series win, especially away, even SA were pretty happy with 1-0 result vs NZ early last year. They (England) wouldn't like to lose any test matches though

  • on March 4, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Andrew,nz can surely win but 4 dat we need taylor nd mccullumr 2 set xmples wid da bat nd captaincy respectively.tim southee needs 2 support c martin toroughly nd last but not da least find a place 4 dan vettori wer da hell is vett?????????? widout him it dosent seems dat inspiring 4 da kiwis.nways life shud always b flexible 2 adjustments nd da middle order as well esp kane wson shud step up nd perfom or else it wud b a 3-0 whitewash 4 da marauding englishman.......even though im not frm nz i wud luv seeing nz my future intrested country of residence 2 perform greatly in the longest form of da game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!all da best 4 da series kiwis!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • CricketingStargazer on March 4, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    @SamRoy Yes, England would take 1-0, but will be disappointed with anything less than 2-0. South Africa are powering away at the top of the ICC Test rankings and even a 1-0 win would see England slip back still further.

  • Hammond on March 4, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    You should take every test match opposition seriously. Cricket is a strange game.

  • steve2101 on March 4, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Nice way to talk up NZ, Gnasher. You aren't a kiwi are you? Stuart Broad would open the bowling for NZ, easily and his place as England's 3rd seamer is under question. NZ don't have a county class spinner. I doubt if any of them would get into the England team: have you any suggestions? It will be a test of England's ruthlessness under a new captain and that's all.

  • Damo_s on March 4, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    NZ are not mugs, and there's no better team than England at letting underdogs play like world beaters. I suspect it will fairly evenly matched unless England stop mucking about and put in some serious performances. England can get away with being a little sloppy but still win, and no doubt thats what they will do. Hopefully our pacemen will endure a good work out to help build some form before the Ashes.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 4, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    I dunno, I'm kinda sitting on the fence here a bit. Whilst I totally agree that NZ are no push-overs (the warm-up match proved that!), I would still like England to experiment a bit - especially if they take an unassailable lead in the series. All eyes will be on a few England players to perform, and if they don't there are good players waiting in the wings. Yes Woakes and Onions for example have disappointed so far, but I would hate for this to be the end of the road for either of them. I would be very happy for this series to finish 2-1 to England, so long as certain players show some great form and maybe a few fringe players get a run and show (at least) some good potential.

  • Tigg on March 4, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    To be honest, I'd be keen on Onions getting a game in the first test. While his practice match form was poor so was that of many of the batsmen. Give him the confidence boost by picking him and let him have a go. When he played against the Windies he outbowled Finn and Bresnan and when in nick he is definitely in the top three seamers in the country.

    Broad has played a full OD and T20 series, so give him the first test or two off and bring him back only if needed.

    Compton, Cook*, Trott, KP, Bell, Root, Prior+, Swann, Anderson, Finn, Onions are the XI for me.

  • Trickstar on March 4, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    England have in the past been guilty of playing down to their opponents level and making what should be relatively easy teats matches wins into hard slogs. I don't think England have had the best preparation with the likes of KP & Compton hardly playing in the last couple of months and they've only had one warm up game, while NZ are in the middle of their season, if this was one of the better sides they would have prepared more thoroughly. Also I'm a bit concerned Finn & Jimmy have had no red ball practice, which is essential for getting their line and length dialed in after played one day cricket. If NZ are going to pull some kind of upset it will be in this first test match where England are not at their peak, similarly to what happened in India and tbh England are not great i the first test of a series, think SA even the Ashes home & away. Over in NZ they have to start strong & hit them hard, let the NZ'ers know they are for a hard time. I reckon England will win 2-0.

  • on March 4, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    Being an England fan I would hope that my team are never guilty of complacency and arrogance but I am sure they have been.i always cringe when you hear Mcgrath / Kholi type predictions as they are disrespectful and generally wrong!