England v New Zealand
Start time: 11.00BST
TV: live on Sky Sports 1
The home side are a little bashful ahead of this two-Test series. They know they were embarrassed in the away leg, failing to beat a competitve but ultimately limited side. Indeed, they were fortunate to avoid the ignominy of defeat. They will have to set the record straight without Kevin Pietersen, who has a knee injury. But Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and James Anderson are all present to form a pace attack which is formidable. Perhaps the biggest boost is Graeme Swann's return. He missed the Kiwi tour and it could be that he makes the difference. Tim Bresnan is also fit again.
Neil Wagner and Trent Boult, the pacemen who caused England problems, are both on tour. The pair took 23 wickets between them and they should relish bowling in similar conditions to back home. As they are both green to international cricket, it will be interesting to see whether they can consistently produce on an away tour. But New Zealand's experienced pros can help them out. It is time Ross Taylor, for example, stopped sulking and scored some runs. He managed just 94 in the three Tests and if Brendon McCullum, Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton can bat around the star man, New Zealand are a threat.
Essentially England were guilty of turning up in New Zealand and expecting to win. They didn't work hard enough and by the time they realised it, they found they are not good enough to turn it on when they want to. There will be no complacency this time. Certainly they will helped by the wickets at Lord's and Headingley. The ball should do more in those two games than in three on stodgy Kiwi wickets. England are [1.42] for victory. That is not a price that interests us. Nor is the [10.0] about New Zealand tempting enough. They do not beat the top six regularly enough - they have three wins since March 2008. The draw at [4.0] does tempt, however, especially given the form guide and the poor May weather that is hanging around. A 1-0 England win is [2.58] and 2-0 is [2.68]. One of these represents the best value and it is probably wiser to reckon England will start sluggishly, the Kiwis will battle, there will be rain about but the hosts will pip it them at Leeds.
First Test odds
A back-to-lay of the draw at [2.60] or so is a shrewd trade for the first game at Headquarters. Traditionally there is a bit in it for the bowlers early on but once the moisture lifts the wicket is good to bat on. England and South Africa enjoyed a ding-dong encounter there last term with the Proteas eventually winning by 51 runs. Otherwise England's recent record is superb, winning six of the previous seven. They are [1.84] with New Zealand, hugely trade-able at [13.00]. The weather forecast, by the way, is not too bad. There are spots of rain but nothing too damaging.
The first-innings average in the last ten Tests is a whopping 411. And it is England who have produced the bulk. More than 375 would be a decent pick here.
Top England runscorer
Matt Prior, recently named England's player of the year, was their saviour in New Zealand with 311 runs. He is likely to go off around [8.00]. Wunderkind Joe Root, who hit 179 against New Zealand in the tour match, is [5.70]. Root is [2.70] for a 50 in the first-innings and that looks a good wager.
Top New Zealand runscorer
In that game at Grace Road, Rutherford also hit a century. But it was Peter Fulton, with 347 runs, who top scored in the previous meeting. He is too big at [7.00]. McCullum is [4.90].