All-round England clear favourites
New Zealand will have their task cut out against a balanced and experienced England team who are fresh off a series win in India
* Top teams include all Test-playing teams except Bangladesh and Zimbabwe
- In 94 Tests played against New Zealand, England have an overwhelming 45-8 win-loss record. The record in England is even more one-sided (27-4). However, majority of the wins came before New Zealand had established themselves as a competitive Test team. Since 1990, England have won 15 matches to New Zealand's four. Two of the New Zealand wins in England came in the 1999 series when they won at Lord's and The Oval. At home in the same period, New Zealand have won two (Auckland in 2002 and Hamilton in 2008) and lost seven. England have won three of the last four series (one drawn series) contested between the two teams. The last series win for New Zealand came in 1999 when they won 2-1 in England.
- England batsmen have scored 76 centuries since the beginning of 2008 (63 matches). In contrast, New Zealand have managed just 31 centuries in 45 Tests in the same period. While the ratio of 100s to 50s for England is just over 0.50, the corresponding figure for New Zealand is below 0.30. Against top teams (excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), New Zealand's ratio of 100s to 50s drops even further to 0.26 while England's remains at 0.50. England have been outstanding in away matches against top teams scoring 36 centuries and 57 fifties in 25 matches. New Zealand, however, have just 11 centuries and 40 fifties in 20 away matches against top teams.
- Since 2008, in matches against top teams, England bowlers average 31.45 with 42 five-fors. New Zealand in comparison average 39.25 with 14 five-wicket hauls. There is no significant improvement in New Zealand's bowling stats at home - in 18 Tests, they have seven five-wicket hauls at an average of 39.28 and strike rate of 78. England, on the other hand, have picked up 20 five-fors in home Tests at an average of 30.03 and strike rate of 58.7. Both England's pace bowlers and spinners have superior averages and strike rates as compared to their New Zealand counterparts. In the period since 2008, England have the third-best average among pace bowlers and the second-best average among spinners (behind Pakistan).
- The average difference (difference between team batting and bowling averages) for England against top teams since 2008 is 6.19. Only South Africa (11.09) have a higher average difference in the same period. New Zealand in comparison have a far lower average difference (-11.93) which is only better than those of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. England's win-loss ratio of 1.62 is third behind those of South Africa (2.50) and Australia (1.66) while New Zealand's (0.17) is easily the lowest among the top teams.
- England have had the highest number of century partnerships (89) in the period since the beginning of 2008. Australia and India are joint-second with 78 century stands. In contrast, New Zealand have the lowest number of century stands (29) among top Test-playing teams. Alastair Cook has been involved in eight century stands with Jonathan Trott and seven with Kevin Pietersen. For New Zealand, Martin Guptill has shared two century stands each with Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor. England have a higher average for each partnership wicket with the highest difference being the opening partnership (England average 44.12 while New Zealand average 25.64).
- Against pace bowlers (since 2008), Cook averages 46.63 with a balls-per-dismissal value of 88.93. Pietersen, who averages 52.47, has a slightly lower balls-per-dismissal value (81.60). Among New Zealand batsmen, Taylor (52.02) and McCullum (38.66) have the highest averages against pace. Pietersen has an excellent scoring rate (3.99) against spin and averages 47.72. Despite scoring at a lower rate (2.91), Cook has a superb average against spin (79.27) and a very high balls-per-dismissal value (163.18). Taylor and McCullum, in comparison, have much lower averages against spin (38.00 and 35.68 respectively).
- New Zealand have played 11 matches (all opposition teams included) in Wellington since 2005 winning three and losing four. They have played just four matches in Dunedin (two wins and two draws) and two in Auckland (one win and one loss) in the same period. All three venues have very similar averages ranging between 30.45 and 31.90. Pace bowlers have the best average (29.50) in Wellington followed by Dunedin (32.08). Spinners, however, have much better averages in Auckland (24.36) and Dunedin (27.57) as compared to Wellington, where they average 39.01.
Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo
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