New Zealand v England
Thursday 23 February, 22:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
The planets are coming into line to have an interest on former New Zealand captain Kane Williamson to go well at Wellington's Basin Reserve.
Williamson has been boosted to 3/1 from 11/4 for top Kiwi bat in the first dig. It means he clears the first hurdle as to whether he rates value.
With 10 wins in his last 34, Williamson has a a hit rate of 29.4%. Sportsbook rate him a 25% chance at their improved odds. It is rare that we get any sort of edge on Williamson given his standing as one of the best batters in the world. Rare still that it is as sizeable.
What could put us off is a poor Williamson record in Wellington. No fear. He has a fabulous record. In 13 Tests there he averages 66, including three fifties in his las three innings. Overall he has three centuries and six fifties at the venue.
Wiliamson is our best option after Daryl Mitchell was clipped to 6/1 from 7/1 meaning he's in negative equity in terms of win rate versus odds. There's a small edge (0.8%) on Tom Blundell at 7/1. Blundell thrashed a brilliant ton in the first match and it would not be a surprise if he went back-to-back.
NZ top batsman wins/matches:
Stokes a poke
England have confirmed they will pick the same XI that comfortably won the first Test. But that doesn't necessarily mean the same batting order. We expect Ben Stokes to bat at No 6.
Stokes was in at No 8 in the second innings at Mount Maunganui because Stuart Broad was used as a nightwatchman and was then in the toilet when a wicket fell. Ben Foakes went in instead.
At 9/1 with Sportsbook there is a slight edge in our favour with four wins in 35. It doesn't hurt that Stokes also returns to the city where he grew up.
Harry Brook, with three wins in five, is 4/1. We don't bet him at this stage because we need a greater study period for a true reflection of his price for our win-rate strategy. On pure ability, though, it's hardly a mug wager.
England top batsman wins/matches:
*Read Ed Hawkins' second Test preview here