First Test of England’s difficult summer could swing Kiwi’s way

How things have changed since New Zealand last toured these shores. Unbeaten in six Test-match series following the 2-0 defeat suffered at English hands in 2013, the Black Caps have risen to third in the format’s official rankings.

The Kiwis now arrive with a formidable squad in place for all formats, following the recent addition of a Cricket World Cup silver medal. Meanwhile, results on the field and actions off it have made England something of a cricketing laughing stock.

Despite all that, Alastair Cook’s men remain the 6/5 favourites to win the first Test of this two match series at Lord’s, while Brendon McCullum’s men are rated 9/4, with the draw available at the same price.

Perhaps the visitors’ preparations, where most of their squad have flown in from the IPL, has been factored into those odds. Their performances two years ago, where they lost by 170 then 247 runs, also counts against them ahead of the first ball, but that is far enough in the past to be discounted.

Stuart Broad, the chief tormentor of the first victory in 2013, is a shadow of his former self, while Graeme Swann, who engineered the second triumph, is long since retired.

Still without a reliable replacement for the match-winning off-spinner, England lean heavily on the skill of James Anderson to win them Tests.

With his body creaking from continual heavy workloads, the Lancashire lad is sure to wane under the strain sooner or later.

Ladbrokes still make him the 8/1 favourite to be named man of the match, but in conditions that are set to suit swing bowling, it’s actually the tourists that pose the bigger threat.

Both Trent Boult and Tim Southee showed their considerable talent to move the ball through the air during their side’s momentous World Cup campaign. The pair should revel in their surroundings this series.

Rarely has Cook’s side encountered an attack as adept in exploiting the early English summer as this Kiwi unit and both Boult, at 10/1, and Southee, 16s, rate superb alternative man-of-the-match choices.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.