Once again we are facing the prospect of another exciting England test series, with the ever-present shadow of Kevin Pietersen looming overhead. It was confirmed last week that the controversial character will not be featuring in England´s Test side, which will hopefully draw a line under that saga, as we focus on what´s important.
An exciting new duo has introduced fresh blood into the team, with Adam Lyth and Mark Wood selected for the first test of two against the Kiwis.Yorkshireman Adam Lyth will replace the retired Jonathan Trott and open the batting with captain Cook in his test debut. Despite England still struggling for positives, the recent improvement in Alastair Cook´s batting performances have been pleasing for English fans. In his last two tests against the Windies he had innings scores of 76, 59 (not out) and 105. Cook will be looking to continue that form and help bed in the newcomer alongside him at the top of the order.Back the captain to lead by example and be England´s top batsman in the first innings at 4/1.
England´s bowlers have been their saving grace in recent tests, and despite a few shaky performances, they should prove to be the big difference at Lords against New Zealand. Jimmy Anderson had a superb series against the West Indies, where he managed to surpass Ian Botham to become England´s leading wicket taker of all time. Having achieved this milestone in the second test, he then went on to be England´s leading wicket taker in the third, amassing an impressive seven wickets in total. Back Jimmy to continue his fine form and finish as England´s leading wicket taker in the first innings at 2/1.
England won´t have it all their own way against New Zealand however, and will have to turn their fortunes around pretty sharpish to avoid an embarrassing defeat at the home of English Cricket. New Zealand are a side on the up, with several big names that can damage the very best Test sides, and a huge amount of confidence from their World Cup exploits this year. However, England are at home for this one, with Lords has always been an incredibly hard venue for away opponents to claim victory at. With some new names in the test side and a few more positives creeping around the team, this could well be the game that gets England back on track in test cricket. Back England to win the first test at 5/4.