England vs New Zealand: Biggest issues for Stokes and McCullum to tackle in new era


a new era begins for English cricket on Thursday as the first Test against New Zealand begins at Lord’s.

England are led by a new captain in Ben Stokes, while Kiwi great Brendon McCullum has taken over the coaching reins after truly miserable form.

The hosts have won just one win in their last 17 Tests, winless in their previous five series, which puts them bottom of the Test World Championship standings.

Here, Standard Sport cricket correspondent Will Macpherson looks at the biggest issues Stokes and McCullum need to address…

The first three

Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope are seen by England as strikers whose time has come to repay the investment made in them, McCullum-style players who just need to be unlocked by the new coach.

Both carry risks, while Alex Lees is the straight man. He deserves another chance after playing well in the Caribbean and then starting the season well with Durham. If he has to stay, it doesn’t matter how the races come, just that they do.

the spinner

Matt Parkinson is the populist choice. He’s been unlucky enough to have so many drinks and has an excellent record, especially as he’s a leg-spinner in England. Jack Leach is safer and deserves to go home, where he hasn’t played since 2019 but has a great record.

Will Matt Parkinson or Jack Leach become England’s leading Test spinner?

/ Getty Images

Leach is a Ben Stokes favorite and a stable operator who can provide control, but will want to show more than that. Has a role to play with the bat.

The Guardian

With Harry Brook’s case for selection in the middle order getting stronger week by week, the pressure is on among the wicket-keepers. After disappointing in the Caribbean, Ben Foakes has a bit to prove, with Jonny Bairstow making two tons in his last four tests.

Coming straight from the IPL and a very long winter, Bairstow – a player in McCullum’s mold – will also have to get down to business. A decade into his Test career, his record at No. 5 isn’t quite as good as it was at the bottom of the order.

standard Sport

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