New Zealand vs England First Test Match : A tough task for Silverwood and Root
- Bay Oval
- Wed 20 Nov - 10pm UK time
- Live on Sky Sports
England begin their Test series of New Zealand on the evening of Wednesday 20 November (UK time) and will have a lot to do against the home side which has a good record on their own soil.
The Kiwis have won their last five Test series at home, not always against the strongest opposition and not always over the longest stretch of matches, but it is still a fantastic record. Those series wins have come against West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, but most notably, England.
Yes, the last time England come on tour to this part of the world they lost 1-0 in a two-match Test series, suffering an embarrassing battering in the first contest. The tourists were skittled for just 58 in their first innings of the series as Trent Boult and Tim Southee shared 10 wickets in just over 20 overs and Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali all scored ducks.
New Zealand would go on to win the match by an innings and 49 runs as Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls made batting look an awful lot easier with tons in their only innings. England nearly salvaged a win in the second Test, but could only manage a draw and a lost series.
Reliable New Zealand vs a brand new England
Things have changed quite significantly in the England side since then, with a very different top three in the batting order this time around. Gone are Alistair Cook, Mark Stoneman and James Vince and in come Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Joe Denly or Zak Crawley, with Joe Root still at four.
It could be that Sibley and Crawley both make their debuts at the Bay Oval, which would be a huge risk and make England’s performance very hard to predict. Sibley especially looks the part and Root will be hoping that he and Burns will be able to form an opening partnership for years to come, but we just do not know how he will do just yet. Ollie Pope could also play in the middle order, another player lacking in international experience.
There is yet more uncertainty in the coaching side of things with this being Chris Silverwood’s first foray as an international head coach, having taken over from Trevor Baylis. The former Yorkshire bowler has a plan for his tenure in charge, but there are bound to be teething problems, as there always are.
The New Zealand side looks much more tried, tested and reliable and on home ground should be able to punish the England team which is still trying to work out how it is supposed to look. There are superstars in the English side, with Root backed up by the likes of Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes, but there is so much uncertainty surrounding them.
The vast experience and quality of Williamson, Boult, Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Neil Wagner and Nicholls look a much more solid bet than the unknown quantity of this England side, especially as the English haven’t won a Test series in New Zealand for over 10 years and tend to struggle in their first matches on tour.
Latham is in fine form
One New Zealander not mentioned so far is Tom Latham, who has not really become the household name that Kane Williamson has, but is putting together an extremely impressive career as an international cricketer.
The 27-year-old has now played 45 Tests for his country and has scored 10 centuries, currently averaging 44.03 - an extremely impressive record seen as he is opening the batting for the Kiwis.
Latham is also in tremendous form at the moment, coming off a Man of the Match performance in Colombo in his last test, when he scored 154 to help New Zealand win by an innings. That was back in August, but he has clearly not lost his touch as he scored 224 for Canterbury against Wellington at the end of October as well.
With a highest Test score of 264* Latham can go big, and in the form he is in, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to against England. If he can survive the initial bursts of Broad and Archer then he could settle in for a big innings.
Williamson is always the favourite to score the most runs for his country, but was not in good nick on the tour of Sri Lanka, scoring 0, 4 and 20. He has batted just once since then and made 26 for Northern Districts against Canterbury.
The Kiwi captain is one of the best batsmen on the planet and could certainly turn it on against England, but Latham looks like the man to back with the willow this week.
How is the weather?
The match runs from Thursday to Monday and the only day that looks like it could possibly be affected by rain is the final one. The opening day is bright sunshine and temperatures of around 20 degrees, while Friday to Sunday will have similar temperatures but be a bit more overcast. Monday is cloudier still and with slightly more chance of rain, but we should still get five days out of this one.
England have not won a Test series in New Zealand since 2008
New Zealand have won their last five home Test series
New Zealand’s only loss in their last eight home Test series was 1-0 to South Africa in 2016/17
This is the first Test ever to be played at the Bay Oval
There have been nine ODIs at the Bay Oval before, with England playing there once, winning in February 2018
This is Chris Silverwood’s first match as head coach of England
Tom Latham scored 154 in his last Test match for New Zealand
Ross Taylor could become New Zealand’s leading Test run-scorer in history in this series. He is second and 333 runs behind Steven Fleming.
Kane Williamson’s Test batting average of 52.22 is the highest of any New Zealander
Trent Boult and Tim Southee are third and fourth respectively as New Zealand’s all-time Test wicket-takers