England vs New Zealand 2nd Test Preview: Big test for Crawley, Pope & Co as Kiwis take shot at series victory
England might have started the series as slight favourites but New Zealand have edged ahead after an impressive showing at Lord's.
England batting looks brittle
England were without Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow in the first test but even after factoring that, their batting was exposed. The team did show good resistance, headlined by Dominic Sibley's stonewalling as he remained unbeaten on 60, playing out over 200 deliveries in the second innings of the Lord's test to save the match for his team.
But, the fact that New Zealand declared at 169/6 in their second innings, setting England an achievable target of 273 from around 75 overs clearly showed that the opponents didn't rate the England batting line up too highly, and for good reason.
In the first innings, Dom Sibley, Dan Lawrence and James Bracey were all dismissed for ducks while Zak Crawley managed two. The dismissals of Crawley, Lawrence and Bracey came off questionable shots.
Hence, it will be the England batting which will be under a lot of pressure in the second test match. While Burns and Sibley have done enough to keep themselves out of danger, the pressure is slowly but surely mounting on Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope.
Overton in for suspended Robinson?
Ollie Robinson was mighty impressive on test debut as he picked up 7 wickets from a total of 42 overs in the match while maintaining an economy rate of 2.40. This was despite the onslaught, or an attempt at the least, from the New Zealand middle order in their second innings.
His 42 runs in England's first innings were the highest after Rory Burns' century and critical in saving the match for his side. While he may have been impressive on the field, he did not impress much off it. Robinson was embroiled in a controversy regarding historical tweets on his first day at the office and was later suspended from all international cricket by the ECB until the enquiry on "the sexist and racist" tweets reaches its course.
While it may be very unfortunate for the youngster, England have a like-for-like replacement in Craig Overton (36 wickets @ 12 in County Championship 2021) waiting in the wings.
Leach in, will Wood make way for Stone?
England have added Dom Bess to their squad after Robinson's suspension. It is all but certain that the home side will go in with a specialist spinner in Jack Leach after they were fined 40% of their match fees for slow over rate in the Lord's test following their decision to go in with an all seam attack.
Mark Wood was brilliant in the match and did exactly what he is in the team for: bowling with pace, using the short ball effectively and changing the course of the match. England may be wary of burning him out and can give another tearaway, Olly Stone an opportunity.
Jack Leach's inclusion means that one of James Anderson or Stuart Broad will have to sit out. While Anderson seemed the more impressive of the two bowlers in the first test match, the team might want to give the veteran bowler some rest considering his recent history with fitness issues.
Boult set to play
Trent Boult is out of isolation 3-4 days earlier than expected and New Zealand head coach Gary Stead accepted the possibility of playing the left-arm pacer in the second test.
All of the New Zealand seamers did well in the first test match. Still, if the team wants to include Boult in the playing XI to not only increase their chances of winning the Edgbaston test but also keep all players in best possible shape ahead of the World Test Championship final, Tim Southee might have to rest.
Mitchell Santner had a slight finger injury leading into the first test match and was not at his 100% at Lord's. The team might consider bringing in Ajaz Patel in his place. The visitors will have to compromise on batting ability, but they already have enough players in their line up to do the job, right down to Neil Wagner.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
England - Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c), Daniel Lawrence, Ollie Pope, James Bracey (wk), Craig Overton, Olly Stone/Mark Wood, James Anderson/Stuart Broad, Jack Leach
New Zealand - Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner/Ajaz Patel, Kyle Jamieson, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner
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