England and New Zealand set for landmark 100th Test
After much controversy surrounding England cricket over the past few weeks, with the changing of ECB hierarchy, the sacking of coach Peter Moores and the ongoing Kevin Pietersen saga, finally all that talk can be put on hold.
While they may be similar in standard, they couldn’t go into this clash in more differing form, with England crashing out of the ICC World Cup in humiliating fashion and drawing to a depleted West Indies side. The Black Caps, meanwhile, had a terrific run to the final, and boast a number of stars at the top of their game.
Martin Guptill was the batting star of the recent World Cup Down Under, smashing the most runs of the tournament, and he comes into his match on the back of hitting 150 in a warm-up against Worcestershire. You can back him at an enticing 6/1 to be top match batsman.
Guptill will be ably backed by his skipper Brendon McCullum, who also impressed at the finals, too. He is 7/2 to get the highest score for his nation in the first innings.
Mike Hesson can also call upon exciting stars Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson, who are respective 7/2, 4/1 and 10/1 chances in the same market.
In the bowling department, meanwhile, the Black Caps’ attack can be devastating, as they have top 10-ranked Test seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who got the joint-highest amount of wickets at the World Cup. They are both 11/4 shouts to be best with the ball in the first innings for New Zealand.
For hosts England, who will be temporarily coached by assistant Paul Farbrace for the two-Test series with New Zealand, Yorkshire duo Joe Root and Gary Ballance will be their key men in the batting department.
The pair both got terrific centuries in the Caribbean, and are 10/3 and 7/2 respectively to get the most runs in England’s first innings.
Root in particular will be relishing this encounter, as New Zealand are the team he hit his first Test hundred against – back in 2013 at his home ground Headingley. The 24-year-old is the 9/2 favourite to celebrate his vice-captaincy by being best match batsman.
Another Yorkshireman is set to make his debut too, with Adam Lyth looking likely to replace recently retired Jonathan Trott at the top of the order. He got the most runs of the 2014 County Championship season, helping his club win the title in the process, and is 5/1 to score the highest first innings total for England.
In terms of bowling, world Test-ranked number two James Anderson, who is now his nation’s highest ever wicket taker in the longest form of the game, and number eight Stuart Broad will lead the attack. They are respective 9/4 and 10/3 shouts to be best with the ball in the first innings.
Betting tip: Joe Root is top match batsman @ 9/2