New Zealand v England Second Test Betting: Kiwi swingers still have the edge
Ed Hawkins, who warned of the tourists' soft underbelly before game one, says they are vulnerable again in Christchurch from Thursday...
"Here’s a clue from New Zealand coach Mike Hesson as to why England are bruised. 'It's been a big series, we've been planning for the last six months'."
New Zealand v England
Thursday Match 29 23:00 BST
TV: Live on Sky Sports
New Zealand the real deal
New Zealand have long had a reputation as the nearly-men of international cricket. They have consistently made semi-finals of 50-over tournaments and were runners-up in the last World Cup. And they have routinely found themselves in winning positions at the halfway point against the Big Boys in Tests only to be denied.
So there must have been some relief that they got over the line in Auckland. After the wash-outs it looked as though England would get away with it. But Neil Wagner's trademark aggression and England's soft underbelly ensured they would avoid defeat in the series.
Now their focus will be on securing a historic win. The three-man pace attack of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Wagner suggests they should pull it off. Although Boult got the plaudits for razing England in the first-innings, Wagner showed in the second innings this is an attack for all conditions as we said in our series preview. We try to find a winner for their top bowler market here.
A word, too for Todd Astle, the leggie. He chipped in with vital wickets. That was a surprise. His three were his first significant effort nearly six years after debut.
England form doesn't lie
England are in a terrible mess. And perhaps Australia's shame has meant that their ills have not been thrust into the glare as much as they should. Auckland was a horror show.
Joe Root, the skipper, brought up all the tired and naïve platitudes you would expect after his side had been humiliated. It doesn't wash. England have now won once in their last 13 away. That is a sequence which suggests there are deep-rooted problems.
So, what are they? Well, there is an over-reliance on Alastair Cook and Root for runs. Root you can understand but Cook, barring that double ton on the featherbed in Melbourne, is in decline.
Likewise there is too much resting on James Anderson and Stuart Broad's shoulders. If they get it wrong there is very little in support staff with the ball. Whether Anderson and Broad, who bowled comically short after Boult's swing masterclass, should be getting it wrong is another issue.
Ben Stokes would ordinarily provide back-up but he played as a batsman only in game one. His back is still playing up so England may be without his golden arm again.
Mark Wood, the only man they have with any pace, absolutely has to play. It was bizarre to see England pick four bowlers of exactly the same style and pace. Moeen Ali could be dropped as the sole spinner with Jack Leach making his debut.
Pitch helps Kiwis
There have been only four Tests played at Christchurch's Hagley Oval. New Zealand have won three of them and Australia the other. The first-innings scores read: 289-133-370-441. The bad news for England is that tourists have really struggled against the moving ball, in particular Boult who has 22 wickets in those four. Southee has 20. Laying England for 300 or more in first dig could be a popular wager.
Tourists a terrible price on match odds
Here's a clue from New Zealand coach Mike Hesson as to why England are bruised. "It's been a big series, we've been planning for the last six months." Now, does anyone think England have been planning for the Kiwis for as long?
Of course not. They probably didn't plan for six days. So before a pink ball had been bowled in Auckland they were up against it.
Given the margin of victory in the first match - an innings and 49 runs - it is surprising to see the Kiwis rated at [2.62] with England an awful price at [2.42]. A lay of them is far from a bad bet.
Waiting for Williamson for top-bat
Run-machine Kane Williamson returned to form with an imperious century in Auckland. But it is worth noting he didn't top score. That honour went to Henry Nicholls, who hit a brilliant unbeaten 145. Williamson has 256 runs in the four Tests at the Hagley Oval. That's the most of anyone available. Nicholls has 137 in three. Williamson is [3.75] for top Kiwi runscorer and Nicholls, who notched a fifty in the ODI at the venue between the sides, [8.60]. Ross Taylor comes in at [5.0] with 134 in three.
Bairstow a bet for England runs?
Jonny Bairstow scored a century in the ODI match at Hagley so he should be feeling pretty good about himself once he rocks up. Root is [3.80] for top England bat. Before the first Test we said that it could pay to get with someone lower down the order but we didn't think Craig Overton would notch at whopping odds. Maybe Stokes appeals at [7.0] then.
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. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Lay England at [2.4] (0.5pt)