All the talk may still be of sporting conquests with Australia this summer, but England’s cricketers have to handle the threat of New Zealand first.
The two-Test series with the Kiwis begins at Lord’s on May 16th, and given that the tourists caused England more than a little trouble when they were the home side in the series between these two in March, those predicting an easy ride for the hosts ahead of the Ashes might be surprised.
Rain may have restricted the series in New Zealand earlier this year, but the Kiwis still managed to claim 39 England wickets in four innings as the contest ended 0-0.
Key to that wicket haul was the left-armer Trent Boult, who claimed Test best figures of 6-68 in the drawn match at Eden Park.
The joint-favourite at 11/4 to finish as the Kiwis’ top wicket-taker in the series, Boult will be looking to make the most of English conditions as well as the slope at Lord’s to kick-off the summer with a bang.
He claimed 11 wickets in March to finish with the second highest number of victims behind team-mate Neil Wagner on 12, but Boult’s extra pace and movement should stand him in better stead here given that conditions in London and the second Test at Headingley are likely to suit his style.
Wagner is 7/2 to finish as the New Zealand attack’s top dog again, with Tim Southee sharing joint-favouritism with Boult at 11/4. Doug Bracewell is 5/1 having recovered from the foot injury that kept him out two months ago.
All should be respected, but England batsmen Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott are likely to be wary of Boult more than most given that he dismissed them twice each in New Zealand.
A repeat here could make that 11/4 seem very short.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing