It is winner takes all at Edgbaston this week as England face off against New Zealand in the second Test, starting on Thursday.
Despite the third day being washed out, the pair played out an entertaining draw last week at Lord’s and with this the second of only two Tests, it is all to play for in Birmingham.
Kiwis Can Take the Series
Unlike at Lord’s, where rain stole a day, the weather is set fair for Birmingham. This Test not only has a series riding on it, but the fixture provides crucial preparation for both sides’ upcoming meetings with India.
The Kiwis face India in the final of the World Test Championship at Southampton from June 18, while England take on Ravi Shastri’s men in the longest format throughout August and September.
After the frustration of the draw in London, the hope is that five days of play will produce a result.
Southee Can Strike With Attention on Boult
Much of the talk from the Kiwi-bowling perspective has been on Trent Boult’s return to the fold after missing out at Lord’s as he was given extra time off to spend with his family.
The left-armer is ranked as the number one ODI bowler in the world and is
9/4 to be New Zealand’s top first innings bowler, having taken match figures of 9-164 at Lord’s in 2015. However, team-mate Tim Southee looks the one to watch after himself shining at Lord’s last week.
Southee took 6-43 and 1-37 across the two innings and seems to like bowling in England, having grabbed 4-83 at Headingley in 2015.
The 32-year-old is as consistent as they come, providing swing rather than raw pace, and having got a taste for the wickets in London, is tempting to back at
5/2 to be his country’s most potent bowler in England’s first innings.
Expect Something Special from Anderson
Rest and rotation amongst the bowlers has been a feature of England’s approach in recent months, but for a variety of reasons, the options just aren’t currently there.
That might play into the hands of James Anderson who looked a touch rusty at Lord’s after a shortage of action, with two first innings dismissals all he had to show for his exploits.
Edgbaston has been a happy hunting ground for him over the years, taking 44 Test wickets at an average of 22.02.
With a Test under his belt, the 38-year-old is sure to be sharper and while the inclusion of Dom Bess suggests England expect the pitch to break up, that is unlikely to be an issue until the final two days.
With Stuart Broad also short of full match fitness, Anderson looks likely to be the man to lead the Three Lions’ attack and is
9/4 to be his country’s leading first innings bowler.
*All odds correct at time of writing.