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England's tour of New Zealand gets underway

Jonny Bairstow has been in good white ball form

England cricket has reached the end of one of the most hectic, dramatic and controversial seasons in recent memory. But there is little time for reflecting on World Cup glory or an Ashes series that went down to the wire. England has three winter tours coming up, and with the new Test Match Championship underway, every series matters and attracts the attention of the whole cricketing world. 

Tour itinerary

England arrived in New Zealand at the end of October and played two T20 warm up matches and are underway in the 5 match T20I series. There will then be a further pair of warm up games before England and New Zealand take to the field for back-to-back test matches from 21-25 November and 29 November to 03 December. 

What does the form book say?

England pushed Australia all the way in the Ashes, and it is fair to say that without the superhuman exploits of Steve Smith, the end result would have been a very different story. New Zealand are also going into battle on the back of a tied series, but the comprehensive way in which they dispatched Sri Lanka to take victory by an innings will mean the team is brimming with confidence.

The home team will also take confidence from memories of the last England tour to New Zealand two years ago. That was when the visitors got off to the worst start imaginable, being put in and skittled for just 58 in a rain-affected game. New Zealand responded by racking up 427 for eight declared to win by an innings, and while the second test was more closely fought, the damage had been done and the home team won the series 1-0.

The view from the bookmakers

There is very little between New Zealand and England in the test match rankings. Recent form against Australia makes England very slight favourites, but that’s what everyone was saying two years ago. Take a look at betting sites like ComeOn and they are finding it equally difficult to call. The site offers general betting advice as well as laying out the odds, and for this series, the 13/8 on offer for a draw could be the best call of all.

New man at the top

This will be the first series for England with Chris Silverwood at the helm. The former fast bowler, who was part of the 1996-97 squad that toured New Zealand, has built up a solid reputation as a coach who gets results. His first year in charge at Essex saw him lead the team to the first division, and the year after, they became County Champions. 

With the likes of Root and Stokes rested, there will inevitably be half an eye on next year’s T20 world cup, and this series presents a golden opportunity for new talent to get noticed. However, Silverwood is refusing to look far beyond the present, and told reporters: “I’m sure there will be a few conversations but we are here to focus on the series in front of us.” He won’t be the only one, and it promises to be a compelling battle. 

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