Ed Hawkins previews the clash at Lord's, which starts on Thursday, and argues that, despite England's woes, the price is just not good enough about a strong, but under-prepared visiting team...
"Guptill is well prepared having played for Derbyshire, averaging more than 100"
England v New Zealand
Start time: 11:00 BST
TV: Live on Sky Sports
The Kevin Pietersen fiasco, removal of coach Peter Moores and the failure to beat a weak West Indies team has left England in crisis lockdown. For betting purposes arguably the more significant of the 'disasters' that have befallen, them, however is the 1-1 draw in Caribbean.
Their defeat in the last Test undermined a side who were tentatively growing in confidence and they will be nervous ahead of this contest at Lord's, where one false move will have the cricketing media baying for more blood.
Home help should be a comfort. They have lost only five Tests in the last five years (33 matches) and the return to form of key men Alastair Cook and James Anderson is a major boost.
There is also much to like about Gary Ballance and Joe Root, who have cemented their positions as pillars of the team for years to come. Adam Lyth will make his debut as opener in place of the retired Jonathan Trott. Moeen Ali, the spin option, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler ensure they bat deep.
There is one spot up for grabs, that of the final pacer. Mark Wood, the Durham quick, looks set to get the nod ahead of Chris Jordan so he can add something different to an attack which was accused of being too samey in the Windies.
New Zealand reassessed their Test side after they suffered a hammering in England two years ago. They have done a good job. They are unbeaten in the six series since and have risen to third in the rankings.
Indeed, many Kiwi observers will boast that this is the best team they have produced, no matter the format. It is a crying shame, then, that their preparation has not been what it should be to claim a notable scalp.
Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Tim Southee - their four most important players - have not had a single second of red ball match time in England. They have had to make do with practice outside of their IPL schedules.
Martin Guptill, the top runscorer in the World Cup, is in decent touch, though while their other bowlers impressed in warm-up matches.
Mark Craig, the spinner, is a danger while pacers Matt Henry and Neil Wagner are battling for a spot alongside Boult and Southee.
New Zealand have won one from their previous eight away series' - against West Indies last time out - and have failed to win a Test in their last nine attempts in England. They must buck a serious trend of Test sides struggling on the road. England are 2.526/4, New Zealand 3.55/2 and the draw is 3.02/1.
England have won seven of their last ten first Tests of a series at home. New Zealand have won two (one of them against Zimbabwe) of their last ten first tests away from home. England are unsettled, New Zealand are confident. Something's got to give.
But at what odds? England are 2.3411/8, New Zealand 3.1511/5 and the draw 3.7511/4.
It is difficult to make a case for the Kiwis, despite their impressive reputation. We want bigger about a side who have not got their best men involved at all on this tour so far. We want bigger about a team who must upset an England side who are dangerous at home. Don't forget the Kiwis were rolled for 68 at Lord's in 2013.
There have been only two draws at HQ in the last 11 Tests. The weather forecast is bright enough to ensure a full quota of overs.
The first match-innings average in the last five years (11 Tests) is 380. But England's average is 440 compared to the visitors' 275.
Top England runscorer
Root, England's player of the year, averages 84 on the ground and will be well backed at 4.77/2. Balance averages 88 (two Tests only) and Ian Bell 43. They are 5.39/2 and 5.69/2 respectively.
Top New Zealand runscorer
Guptill is well prepared having played for Derbyshire, averaging more than 100. His century against Worcestershire in the warm-up means he is a fancy at 5.79/2. Williamson, however, has batted only twice since the end of March. Lay him for a first dig 50 at around 3.02/1.
Back England at 2.3411/8
Back M Guptill top first-innings New Zealand runscorer at 5.79/2
Lay K Williamson for first-innings 50 at 3.02/1
Ed Hawkins P/L
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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