England v New Zealand Second Test: Kiwis can explode myth of new England

Boult was a threat at Lord's
Boult was a threat at Lord's

Ed Hawkins previews the second, and final, Test of the series which starts at Headingley on Friday and he expects the tourists to cause the hosts problems

"England have won one of the last five Tests, contributing to a win ratio of just 1.0 in the last ten years at Leeds hich comfortably makes it their least successful home venue"

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Back New Zealand at 4.47/2

England v New Zealand
Start time: 11.00BST
TV: Live on Sky Sports


All is apparently well with the English game after a thrilling victory in the first Test at Lord's. England have won five of their last seven Tests, they have a new hero in the form of Ben Stokes and a new coach, the Australian Trevor Bayliss.

In the wake of his heroics at Lord's Stokes has been lauded for regenerating the game in England following the Kevin Pietersen fiasco. This is, of course, ludicrous. The Durham lad had the sort of game that a player produces once in a career. He will be expected to do it more than that for a fickle and unrealistic public.

Whether Stokes is capable of turning England into a real force in Test cricket remains to be seen. He will need to find the consistency of Joe Root, who proved once again what a magnificent player he is, to justify the hype.

As important as Stokes's effort was the whopping ton by Alastair Cook. It guarantees he will lead England in the Ashes and ends debate about his future until the end of the summer. Stability should not be sniffed at.

Adam Lyth could do with a score on his home ground while there were encouraging signs that Mark Wood, who also debuted at HQ, could become the real deal.

New Zealand

New Zealand are probably still scratching their heads as to how they lost a Test after making 523 in their first-innings. It was some feat and confidence in a much-vaunted touring side will have taken a hit.

They probably fared better than this column expected. Kane Williamson, who has barely played, proved that the hiatus had not hindered him, Brendon McCullum had a fluent first-innings effort while Trent Boult claimed nine wickets in the match. Tim Southee was the one Kiwi late arrival who did look undercooked and he should be better for having had a runout at Lord's.

There are fitness doubts over Corey Anderson (back) and BJ Watling (knee). Doug Bracewell, the fast-bowling all-rounder, is the most likely replacement for Anderson. Luke Ronchi, the specialist keeper, stands by for Watling.

First-innings runs

We say it every year for our Headingley pitch report but the sun means runs and cloud means wickets. That fact rather makes the first-innings average of 314 in the last ten years (eight games) irrelevant because of the differing skies for those matches. It is one of the reasons why England have struggled in Leeds. They cannot always be guaranteed the best of the conditions. In other words, the pitch is a great leveller.

Match odds

The notion that England are suddenly the finished article thanks to a wham-bam-thank you-mam performance from Stokes is fanciful. And it could well be exploded at Headingley.

Indeed, New Zealand will probably take solace in the fact that the only reason they lost was because an individual produced something extraordinary. It is unlikely Stokes can do that again so they have nothing to fear.

Before the series began we talked about wanting bigger than 4.03/1 about New Zealand claiming victory in the face of a strong England home record. And we've got it. They are 4.47/2 with England 2.568/5 and the draw 4.1.

Providing the price was there New Zealand were always going to be the bet in Leeds. That's largely due to England's terrible record there. They have won one of the last five Tests, contributing to a win ratio of just 1.0 in the last ten years which comfortably makes it their least successful home venue.

We are also, oddly, buoyed by England's performance at Lord's. It was good. We know that they are a team who struggle to put together back-to-back efforts so we are confident that they might not hit the heights of London.

The weather forecast is not so hot. Actually, there's some rain but it's not enough to put us off. Time can be made up.

Top England runscorer

Cook, 4.77/2, is England's top bat in the last five years at the ground with 267 at an average of 44. Root, on home turf, is next best with 176. He is 4.47/2. Moeen Ali, 16.015/1, notched a ton there last year.

Top New Zealand runscorer

The Kiwis were well beaten there in 2013 and only Ross Taylor managed a half-century in the whole game. He is 5.59/2. Williamson is jolly at 4.03/1 with McCullum 4.57/2.

Recommended Bet
Back New Zealand at 4.47/2

Ed Hawkins P/L

2015: +£147.80
2014: +315.10 (ROI 27%)
2013: +250.80 (ROI 25%)
To £10 level stakes, based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice
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