Sports Betting Weekly

England v New Zealand

When: Thursday, 21 May 2015 @ 17:00 (FINISHED)
Where: Lords Cricket Ground
The first Test between England and New Zealand, which got underway on Thursday, is the first of seven Test matches to take place in England this year.

It will be the first meeting between the two teams since they clashed at this year’s World Cup in February, where the Kiwis – who were tournament co-hosts – chased down their target of 124 in less than 13 overs to win by eight wickets at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, partly in thanks to captain Brendon McCullum’s knock of 77 off 25 balls.

England were 2-0 winners the last time the two sides met in a Test series, which was in England in 2013, where England batsman Joe Root scored his maiden Test century with a score of 104 in the second Test at Headingley.

The two-match series – which will be followed by five One Day Internationals and a T20 – will be the final Test match preparation for the hosts before this year’s Ashes series against Australia, beginning in July.

England come into this series less than a month after the conclusion of their tour of the West Indies, which did not include limited over matches and culminated in a 1-1 drawn Test series from three matches.

That followed a pool stage exit at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, and Peter Moores was sacked as head coach less than a week after the end of the West Indies tour, following the appointment of Andrew Strauss as director of cricket.

Strauss, a former England captain, has since confirmed that batsman Kevin Pietersen – who has not played for England since January 2014 – will not be making a return to the team in the short-term future, citing a “massive trust issue” between Pietersen and himself as a reason for his omission in an interview with Sky Sports News.

Paul Farbrace has stepped up from the position of assistant coach to take charge of the team on a caretaker basis, and this match will be his first assignment in the role.

Batsman Jonathan Trott announced his retirement from international cricket after the West Indies tour, bringing an end to an international career that saw him make 52 Test appearances, 68 ODI appearances and seven international T20 appearances, where he scored a combined 13 centuries for England across all formats.

Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth is making his England debut after being selected to replace Trott – who is one of two players from the team that lost the third Test against the West Indies at the Kensington Oval in Barbados to have been left out – while uncapped Durham bowler, Mark Wood, also makes his debut by replacing Chris Jordan. Lyth and Wood were both in the squad for the West Indies tour, but did not play.

Despite having fallen from first to fifth in the International Cricket Council Test rankings since 2012, England have lost just two of eight Test series since losing the number one ranking to South Africa in 2012, and have only lost two of their last 14 home Test matches.

England captain Alastair Cook scored his first international century since May 2013 in the third Test against the West Indies with a score of 105, which was his third consecutive score of over 50, and he is joint-favourite to be England’s top scorer in the first Test at 7/2 along with Root, who like Cook registered one century and two half-centuries in the West Indies series.

James Anderson, who became England’s all-time leading Test wicket taker during the West Indies tour by dismissing Denesh Ramdin for his 384th Test dismissal, goes into this series on the back of taking 17 wickets in that series, and he is the favourite to be England’s top bowler at 9/4.

Stuart Broad, who recorded his only Test century to date at Lord’s against Pakistan in 2010, is second-favourite in that field at 11/4.

As for the visitors, they will be looking for their first Test match and series victory in England since 1999, having failed to win a Test on English soil in their last eight attempts, and that run includes series losses in 2004, 2008 and 2013.

This match is their first competitive international since losing the World Cup final to Australia in March, and that match was their only defeat of the tournament after they recorded eight consecutive wins.

They have since managed two wins on their tour of England so far over Somerset and Worcestershire.

New Zealand are unbeaten in the six Test series they have played since the 2013 tour of England – the last of which was a 2-0 win at home to Sri Lanka – and they have not played a Test match since the second Test of that series in January.

Batsman Martin Guptill, who scored a competition record 237 not out in the quarter-finals of the World Cup against the West Indies, accumulated 150 against Worcestershire at New Road last week.

Guptill is making his first Test appearance since the 2013 tour of England, while bowler Matt Henry makes his debut.

Grant Elliott and Daniel Vettori are the only members of the team to have played in the World Cup final that are not in the touring squad, as Elliott has not been selected and Vettori has retired from international cricket.

Guptill is the favourite to be New Zealand’s top run scorer in this match at 10/3, along with Kane Williamson, who notched three scores of over 50 in the Sri Lanka series, the last of which being a knock of 242 in the second Test in Wellington.

McCullum, who led the Kiwis to their first World Cup final at this year’s tournament, achieved three Test scores of over 200 last year, and is the next shortest-priced at 9/2.

England’s home Test series record since losing to South Africa in 2008 reads played 12, won 10, lost two, and they are the shortest odds to win the match at 6/5, ahead of New Zealand at 11/5, and odds for a draw are 5/2.

Odds for the series overall show that England are 13/8 favourites to emerge victorious, while New Zealand are 2/1 and the same odds are given for the series to be drawn, despite the fact that New Zealand are currently ranked two places higher than England in the world rankings in third.