New Zealand vs England 2018: 5 England players to watch out for in the Test series

Image result for England Test team Ashes 2017
England will be looking to better their recent overseas record.

The contest between New Zealand and England in recent times always tends to excite the cricketing world. The last time these two teams played a Test series, it was a cracking one. England won the first Test at Lord’s despite having their backs against the wall. On the other hand, the Kiwis bounced back in style and won the second Test at Leeds to square the two-match test series 1-1.

Despite New Zealand boasting of a strong home record, their record against England is not great. In New Zealand, England have lost only four Test matches and have lost only one series there (which was in 1984). However, England’s recent form hasn’t been great. They lost the Ashes 4-0. Their overseas performances haven't been great either. They have won just one series out of their last seven away series'. New Zealand, on the other hand, whitewashed West Indies 2-0 in their last series in the whites.

Hence, with both sides expected to fight it out in the two-match Test series, we look at 5 England players to watch out for in this Test series.

#5 Chris Woakes

Related image
Woakes will look to better his red-ball record.

Chris Woakes has been England’s best white-ball player in the last few months. He has scored vital runs with the bat at crucial stages of the game and has been one of England’s go-to bowlers. In 9 ODIs he’s played this year (2018), he has scored 200 runs at 50.00 and has taken 15 wickets. He was also the Man of the Series in the 5-match ODI series against New Zealand.

However, his form with the red-ball hasn’t been great. In the Ashes series, he played 4 games and took only 10 wickets. His strike-rate was a poor 100.20 while he averaged 49.50 with the ball.

His form with the bat wasn’t too impressive as well. In the absence of premier all-rounder Ben Stokes, much was expected of Woakes, especially with the bat in the lower-order. However, he failed to deliver. He could only score 114 runs in 7 innings. Even in the warm-up game he played in New Zealand, he didn’t impress a lot. He took 1/63 and scored only 4.

But he has been in terrific form in white ball cricket. Hence, the Warwickshire all-rounder will be itching to prove his worth in red ball cricket.

#4 Dawid Malan

Related image
Dawid Malan was the 4th highest run-getter in the Ashes series.

There were serious doubts over England’s middle-order when they landed in Australia for the Ashes. No. 3 and No. 5 were two spots which were susceptible for England. However, Dawid Malan grabbed his opportunity and cemented his place in the England Test team.

Before the first Test started, Malan averaged just 23.63 and had scored 189 runs in 8 innings (across 5 Tests). But he stepped up when it mattered the most. He performed on the big stage and fought well in the Ashes.

He was England’s leading run-scorer in the Ashes with 383 runs. He scored 3 fifties and a superb hundred (140 which came at Perth). The Middlesex left-hander played the pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins very well. He also batted well against Nathan Lyon who was on song in the Ashes. He continued his good form into the T20 tri-series where he 3 fifties in 4 games.

Hence, he was easily the find of the winter for England and they will hope that Malan continues his good form in the two-match Test series against New Zealand.

#3 Stuart Broad

Image result for Stuart Broad Tests
Stuart Broad hasn't been at his best in the last one year or so.

Stuart Broad’s performance has been underwhelming in the last 12 months or so. In 12 Test matches he’s played since the start of 2017, he has taken 31 wickets at an average of 38.81. His strike-rate has also been poor (81.70).

In the Ashes, he looked the least threatening England bowler. He took just 11 wickets across 5 Test matches in Australia. He did bowl well in the English summer where he beat the bat on numerous occasions and troubled the batsmen and didn’t take a lot of wickets. But the Nottinghamshire pacer lacked rhythm and looked a little out of sorts in the Ashes series.

However, Stuart Broad is on the verge of a special milestone. He is currently on 399 wickets and will become only the second England bowler (after James Anderson) to take 400 Test wickets. Also, the team management has revealed that Stuart Broad may not take the new ball and might come into bowl first-change.

England will be hoping that Broad turns up well and gets back to his wicket-taking form. The conditions in New Zealand will also help the 31-year old.

#2 Joe Root

Image result for Joe Root Tests
This New Zealand series will test Joe Root as captain as well.

Joe Root is one of the most consistent batsmen going around in world cricket. His contribution is very important for England to do well in any series. But he has had just one problem as far as his batting is concerned. He is not converting his 50s into 100s.

The last time Joe Root scored a Test hundred was against West Indies at Edgbaston where he scored 136 in England’s first-ever day-night Test match. However, Root has batted in 12 innings after that and has gone past the 50-run mark on 7 occasions. But he has failed to convert even one of those into a hundred. His highest score is 83. He even struck 5 fifties in the Ashes series but it didn’t have any effect as he got out after getting starts.

As captain, this will be Joe Root’s fourth series. He won his first assignments – South Africa (3-1) and West Indies (2-1), both at home. However, his real test as captain came in the Ashes series where the England players were in the news for off-field distractions and the team wasn’t performing well enough.

Joe Root, the captain, has his task cut out as England will be eager to maintain their good record in New Zealand and also improve their recent overseas record. Hence, Joe Root, the batsman and the captain will be in the spotlight in this upcoming Test series.

#1 Ben Stokes

Image result for Ben Stokes  Tests
Prior to his suspension, Ben Stokes was in superb form.

The name Ben Stokes definitely gives everyone a sense of excitement. However, he has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. He got involved in a mid-night brawl and hence was suspended by the ECB until his investigation wasn’t complete. He missed the full Ashes series and the ODI and T20 series that followed.

But he returned to the England side for the ODIs against New Zealand and was terrific. He played 5 games, scored 141 runs at an average of 47.00 and took 5 wickets. The impact and the energy he had on the field was simply brilliant. His presence certainly made a big difference in the team composition.

England dearly missed him in the Ashes series and it showed in the 4-0 result. Stokes has this wonderful ability to lift the side when things aren’t going their way. He can produce a moment of brilliance and suddenly bring the game back to life.

Thus, he will be back in the whites for England and will be itching to take the field. Ben Stokes is definitely a player to watch out for in this upcoming two-match Test series.

Brand-new app in a brand-new avatar! Download CricRocket for fast cricket scores, rocket flicks, super notifications and much more! 🚀☄️

Quick Links