The first test match of the two-match series between England and New Zealand begins tomorrow at Lord’s. Arguably a prelude for the summer’s ‘big event’, the Ashes, the visiting Kiwis both provide an excellent opportunity and represent a potential banana skin.
Should England beat the black caps over the two games, they could well kick on and perform well in the Ashes. If the top order batsmen could get some invaluable runs, and if the bowlers can hit their straps then life after Peter Moores might seem quite rosy. If England lose however, particularly if they lose comfortably, it might well leave the hosts in a very difficult position.
Let’s not hide the truth here, England might get slaughtered this summer. Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson could bowl us out for scores below 200 in all ten innings and David Warner, Shane Watson and Steve Smith might be the only Aussie batsmen who our bowlers get to have a go at. That is, quite obviously, a very pessimistic outlook. It is possible that last Ashes’ 5-0 demolition is the sole reason for such a negative conclusion that most people have come to, but it’s not too far-fetched to predict something similar on home turf.
Back to New Zealand though for now. England should not make the mistake I have just made in thinking more about the Australians than tomorrow’s opposition. New Zealand were the second best team at the world cup, and only marginally second. Granted, they were comfortably beaten by Australia in the final, but the were every bit as good as them for the whole of the tournament. While test cricket is a completely different game to its fifty-over cousin, the Kiwis will provide a very tough challenge. Trent Boult is a huge threat to any side with the new ball, while exciting batsmen such as Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor have the ability to move the game forward at a frightening pace.
It’s not all doom and gloom though: we have one of the best red-ball bowlers in the world in Jimmy Anderson, and Alastair Cook seems to have rediscovered some form, with Gary Ballance proving as solid as ever and Joe Root in the form of his life. Make no mistake, England are a good test side, and should be better than New Zealand. The major concern is that, should the tourists win the series, England might well feel lost without and official head coach, with the way forward looking more like a downward spiral than an upward one.
Anyway, apologies for all the misery and for not posting anything recently – exams are certainly to blame for both my absence and pessimism! Good luck, England.