The Test series between England and New Zealand concludes from Thursday when the two sides head up to Leeds for the third and final encounter of what has been a wonderful couple of weeks of cricket so far.
It has certainly been good for England, who have already wrapped the series up with a match to spare. New Zealand are a proud bunch though and they will be eager to avoid being whitewashed so this is nicely setup.
The new England setup promises an exciting ride and that is exactly what they have delivered so far. Clearly from where they were in this format of the game with just one win in 17 matches prior to this summer, winning was the overriding thing England needed to get back to doing but the most impressive thing has been the mind-set of the team. Even when staring down the barrel of a big score they never stopped looking for a way to win and at Trent Bridge it worked out.
It won’t always work out but it is amazing how quickly pressure can shift to an opponent when intent is made clear so I really like that about this England team. Yes in their attacking approach they will fall in a heap from time to time but when it comes off just about anything seems possible. England know all about achieving the impossible at Leeds as they showed here in 2019 when Ben Stokes played THAT innings.
While I think it is fair and quite right to point out that New Zealand have been nowhere near their best in this series, we should also acknowledge that they haven’t had a lot of luck either with an injury during both matches severely hampering them in the final innings of the match, while the Covid positive test of Kane Williamson ahead of the second game was even less ideal. To their credit, New Zealand have been in winning positions in both matches but being a man light in each cost them dearly.
The Kiwis have put up a couple of decent scores with the bat in this series but their top order haven’t really got going so if they can get some runs from the top four it would certainly be welcome. The other issue the tourists have had is they haven’t really got their bowlers organised at any point. Everything has been a bit of the same, while in the second Test the captaincy was little short of shocking come the end so they’ll be glad to have their regular skipper back here.
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England have already confirmed their starting XI and it contains one change with Jimmy Anderson being rested with a bit of a niggle. His absence provides an opportunity for Jamie Overton to make his Test debut.
New Zealand will have to make one change with Kyle Jamieson out of this match. Neil Wagner looks set to replace him while Kane Williamson is expected to return in place of Michael Bracewell. A third change could be made if they want the spin of Ajaz Patel over the extra seamer of Matt Henry. Bracewell could get the nod over Henry too.
I’ll go with a couple of bets this week with the first of them being over 893.5 runs. There is clearly risks attached to this being of the gung ho approaches that these two adopt but Headingley is in desperate need of brownie points after the winter they had so I would be amazed if the ECB don’t get the flat wicket with plenty of pace in it that they have been seeking all summer. New Zealand’s batters aren’t going to have Jimmy Anderson to deal with when they start their innings which will help them, while the move to bring Overton in for him extends the England batting line up. While I don’t expect the crazy numbers we saw at Trent Bridge, the wicket looks like a road based on the pictures we’ve seen and if these Duke balls continue not to swing the batters should get plenty out of this match.
I can’t ignore the 9/1 that Zak Crawley top scores for England in the first innings either. You should really take 9/1 about anyone opening the batting because you know for sure he is going to bat. A lot has been made about the poor form of Crawley this summer but in the first innings of the series for England he top scored and actually looked pretty good. He’ll need more than the 43 he got then to top score here obviously but a flat road at Headingley might be what brings him out of his slump. I will forever maintain there is a class act in Crawley and if the new ball doesn’t swing he is in a perfect venue to show us that.
Back Over 893.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
Back Z.Crawley Top England 1st Inns Batter for a 1/10 stake at 10.00 with BetVictor
Back him here: