Ed Hawkins previews the first Test of the summer from Lord's from Wednesday and fears for the visitors...
"The trend has been prevalent in the Championship too this season. The first-innings scores read: 190-172-210-154-313. There have been only four scores of 300 or more across all innings"
England v New Zealand
Wednesday June 2
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
England in decent shape
One could be forgiven for reckoning that England have an availability crisis. Ben Stokes, Ben Foakes and Jofra Archer are injured while Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler have been stood down following the Indian Premier League.
With each passing day the decision to keep the trio on the sidelines seems a little over-cautious. But when it comes to pencilling in a possible XI, the hosts don't look in too shabby a state. Far from it, in fact, when you consider that all of the available players have got tuned up in county cricket, as discussed in our series preview.
The one area where England do look vulnerable is the No 8 slot. They would probably love a Moeen or Woakes to bat there and be used as fourth bowler. And that dilemma probably means that Craig Overton's batting ability will get the nod ahead of Ollie Robinson, the tyro pacer.
We could be wrong, of course, and Overton could bat at No 7 with Lawrence missing out allowing Robinson a game. But it seems likely that England will deploy a safety-first approach with the batting and lean on that experience of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. James Bracey debuts with the gloves.
Possible XI Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey, Overton, Broad, Anderson, Leach
Despite what the New Zealanders tell you, this two-Test series is surely an opportunity to acclimatise to English conditions ahead of their World Test Championship final against India towards the end of the month.
The likes of Kyle Jamieson, who has never bowled with the Duke's ball before, should be raring to go against that much-vaunted India top order after practising his skills against England. And the Kiwis should also have found an opening partner for Tom Latham.
Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra both impressed in the intra-squad warm-up and one of them will take the spot. Trent Boult is not fit yet but that's okay because Matt Henry, wily and potent for Kent, slots straight in as a like-for-like. Mitchell Santner probably takes the bowling all-rounder slot because he offers spin variety.
Possible XI Latham, Ravindra, Williamson, Taylor, Nicholls, Watling, Santner, Jamieson, Southee, Wagner, Henry
August 2019 - the last time Lord's hosted a Test - seems an awfully long time ago. And it pays to look back at the preview from that Test to serve as a reminder as to what the surface was like. This is what this preview page wrote: "It would be a whopping surprise, then (whoever bats first) if they manage to bust 260 or 270". Well, England batted first and managed 258, a burgeoning trend of low first-innings totals. The four previous to that read: 85-107-184-123.
The trend has been prevalent in the Championship too this season. The first-innings scores read: 172-210-154-313. There have been only four scores of 300 or more across all innings.
It is fair to reckon, then, that with such highly-skilled operators as Broad and Anderson and Southee and Henry involved, batting could be tricky. Laying 260 or 270 first up could be the way to go again. We may also be able to back under the runs line at 2.01/1 at around the 300-310 mark. And we'd be particularly keen if it was the Kiwis who are undercooked.
Despite that trend for brittle batting on the wicket in the first dig, it doesn't translate into wins for the team bowling first. In the last 24 Tests only four have been won by the team bowling first.
One wonders whether Kane Williamson may suffer from a lack of mental exertion as well as physical oif he wins the toss. Could he be fooled and bowl first?
We shall wait and see. Betting pre-toss is fraught with danger and although we have a strong fancy for England to put to best use their superior preparation, we'd prefer to be on them at 1.9010/11 safe in the knowledge that they had a wearing pitch to make use of.
The Kiwis are 3.45 but they are likely to be in desperate need of the run out. Sure, their starting XI is better balanced and man for man they are a better outfit but the value will be there when overs are under their belt. The draw is 5.309/2 with no rain forecast.
Joe Root and Kane Williamson have been price-boosted for top runscorer honours for their respective teams in the first-innings at 13/5 and 9/4 with Sportsbook. The value may well lie elsewhere, however.
England pair Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence have been in good touch domestically and are quoted at 9/2 and 7/1. A tried-and-trusted method of going low for opposition teams in English conditions also throws up decent numbers. Henry Nicholls at 6s, BJ Watling at 10s and Kyle Jamieson at a massive 40/1 are all worth sensible stakes.
For the man of the match market, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are both likely to prove popular at the 8/1 mark.
England v New Zealand Series Preview on Cricket...Only Bettor
Get a £5 Free Bet on Multiples - Every Day!
Place £20 worth of Multiples or Bet Builders over the course of a day, and, after the bets have settled, you'll get a free £5 bet to use on Multiples or Bet Builders. Bets must settle before 23:59 on the day they're placed. No opt-in required, T&Cs apply.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l