Test cricket returns this week as England host New Zealand in a two-match Test series at Lord’s and then Edgbaston over the next two weeks. The tour was arranged hastily, so there are a few things to note ahead of the first ball on Wednesday morning.
No WTC points
This series is not part of the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP) and no World Test Championship (WTC) points will be at stake. The series is basically a nod of gratitude towards the broadcasters who stuck by the ECB during challenging times last year. It serves as bonus content for the ECB’s broadcast partners. It’s also a chance for New Zealand to get some cricket in before their WTC final against India on 18 June.
The first Test at Lord’s on Wednesday will be played in line with existing government regulations, meaning a capacity of around 25% (7,000 people). However, roughly 18,000 fans will be allowed to attend each day of next month’s second Test at Edgbaston.
Gloucestershire’s James Bracey should make his debut behind the stumps following Ben Foakes’ injury and the ECB’s decision to rest Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow following the IPL. On Wednesday, Bracey could be Gloucestershire’s first Test cricketer since Jon Lewis, which was 15 years ago.
South African-born Devon Conway’s international career has got off to a blistering start, specifically in white-ball cricket. The left-hand batter has now increased his chances of a Test debut with a half-century in the New Zealand intra-squad warm-up game last week. He could potentially open the batting despite playing most of his cricket from the No 3 position.
No IPL players
It’s a busy summer for England and they’ve opted to go without their players who played in IPL earlier this year. All-rounder Ben Stokes, fast bowler Jofra Archer and keeper Ben Foakes also are not available because of injury.
For New Zealand, Trent Boult will most likely miss the series but be ready for the WTC final. The left-arm seamer will be a huge miss as the spearhead of the Kiwi attack.
England squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, James Bracey, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Sam Billings, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Mark Wood.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryll Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.