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Stuart Broad set for Test return as England resist Olly Stone temptation

Ben Stokes' focus on "picking his moment" to make his own impact with the ball

Stuart Broad returns after a five-month break  •  AFP/Getty Images

Stuart Broad returns after a five-month break  •  AFP/Getty Images

Stuart Broad will return to the England team for Thursday's first Test against New Zealand after missing the series against Pakistan.
Broad, on his fifth tour of New Zealand, sat out the three-match series at the end of 2022 for the birth of his first child, Annabella. With Olly Stone and Matthew Potts also hovering around selection, three seamers were vying for the final bowling spot in the lead-up to the day-night opener on Thursday.
Speaking in Mount Maunganui after England's training session on Tuesday, Ben Stokes confirmed the 36-year-old seamer will pick up his 160th cap.
While the nature of the pink ball lent itself to flirting with a horse-for-course approach, with Stone's extra pace attractive given the lack of sideways movement expected, the captain has gone with what he sees as his best XI.
"The way in which we've gone about our selections and stuff like that, especially in England and in similarish conditions here, the team we pick - especially with the ball - has the bases all covered, especially in these type of conditions," Stokes said.
Broad will accompany fellow quicks James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, with Jack Leach offering the spin option. Outwardly, the bowling pack have been less than complimentary about the pink Kookaburra that will be used, which moves a little less and feels a little harder than the one they used in the 2021/22 Ashes series.

Stokes confirms bowling fitness

Short balls will have to be utilised during quieter moments, something which puts the onus on Stokes as the allrounder. The skipper did not take part in last week's warm-up match in Hamilton, and did not bowl at training on Tuesday. However, he confirmed he will be able to play a full part in the match.
"We've had really good preparation and build-up for this game and, even with the weather, we've still been able to train in the tent," Stokes said. "Everything is good. Bowling-wise, it's picking the right moment to bowl. I've had the last two days off bowling-wise, then will have a trundle tomorrow [Wednesday]. It's just making sure I get in everything I need to before we start.
"The bowling group have been great together. They have been discussing what they feel is working. People like Jimmy and Broady, who have played quite a few of these pink-ball matches, are still coming to terms with it. Some balls swing, some balls don't, then they will try to bowl the same ball and it will react differently. They have bowled really well together and discussed how they feel is the best way to bowl with the pink ball. In terms of myself, it will be similar to Pakistan, picking the moment when it will be best to get my overs in."
This series marks the first time this new era team under Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have come up against the same team. New Zealand got the first bitter taste of a "New England", losing 3-0 at the start of the 2022 summer which sparked a run of nine wins out of 10.
Though the team are further along in their development, Stokes called back to that series as one which showcased the team's fighting spirit, beyond their destructive qualities.
"That whole series, we were behind the game a lot but we managed to turn each game around completely on its head by the way we went out and did it. We know that we can be dominant but we also know that when we are behind in a game we can turn it around quickly."
New Zealand, meanwhile, were dealt a blow with the news that Kyle Jamieson has been ruled out for the foreseeable future with a suspected back stress-fracture, while Matt Henry will also miss the first Test at Bay Oval as he awaits the birth of his first child. The uncapped duo of Jacob Duffy and Scott Kuggeleijn have been called into the squad as replacements.
England: 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Ollie Robinson, 9 Jack Leach, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo