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England vs New Zealand Third Test Preview: Kiwis Looking for Consolation at Headingley

The third test between England and New Zealand will begin on Thursday, June 23rd at Headingley in Leeds. The match is scheduled to begin at 11 am local time.

The Ben Stokes – Brendon McCullum reign in charge of England test cricket has got off to a fine start.

After former skipper Joe Root inspired them to victory in the first test at Lord’s, he had another fine match in the second test at Trent Bridge. The abiding memory of that match, however, will be the way that Jonny Bairstow and Stokes himself set about the New Zealand bowling on the last afternoon of the game, turning a potentially tricky run chase into a breeze.

 

Previous England New Zealand test matches at Headingley

This will be the eight time that the two countries have met at a test in Headingley, and the current record stands at five wins to the home side and two to the visitors. However, if New Zealand are looking for any encouragement, then it might be from the fact that the last time these two sides played on this ground in 2015, New Zealand won by 199 runs.

 

Key Players for this match

Joe Root

Freed of the burdens of captaincy, Root has found a rich vein of form which has enabled him to once again top the ICC test batter rankings. Already having passed 10,000 test runs and struck two centuries this summer, he has every incentive to do well because he is playing in front of his home fans.

Jonny Bairstow

Bairstow’s England test career has been an up and down affair, and he struggled to nail down a regular place in the side. However, at Trent Bridge, he not only scored the second fastest ever test century by an Englishman, but his innings of 136 helped decide the match in the team’s favour. Another man playing in front of his home crowd, he will be desperate to do well again.

Kane Williamson

Williamson has had a disappointing season, first in the Indian T20 league and then with the bat for his country. He is one of the players who is being rested for the forthcoming limited overs matches against Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands, and would like to find some sort of form before getting on the plane home.

Trent Boult

It is generally true that when Boult is bowling well, then New Zealand tend to prosper. And, with Neil Jamieson ruled out through injury, there will be added pressure on him in this match to lead the Kiwi attack. Like Williamson he is to be spared the rigours of the ODI series to come, so he can afford to make one more big effort for his country. And the ground and conditions may suit his style of bowling.

 

Predicted teams

England captain Ben Stokes missed training on Tuesday because he was unwell. If he is ruled unfit for the match, Joe Root could take over the captaincy again for one match only, and Yorkshire batter Harry Brook could make his debut. There may also be changes in the bowling line-up, with Jimmy Anderson and potentially Mathew Potts rested. That could give pace bowlers Craig and Jamie Overton the chance to make history by becoming the first brothers to play test cricket for England.

Meanwhile New Zealand will have to do without pace bowler Kyle Jamieson because he has suffered a stress reaction in his lower back and has already returned home. Blair Tickner could play in his place. Captain Kane Williamson who missed the game at Trent Bridge after failing a Covid test, should return.

 

Weather

The weather for the five days of the test match is predicted to be largely cloudy, and there could be the odd shower, although it should not significantly disrupt play.

 

The pitch

Traditionally the pitch at Headingley is good for batting, although spinners can have some joy later in the match. It can also be a happy hunting ground for swing bowlers, particularly in overcast conditions.

 

Prediction

Although the changes – either voluntary or enforced – might weaken England they have the momentum heading into this match, and the knowledge that the series is already won. New Zealand have not looked the same side on this tour that were crowned World Test Champions just a year ago, and, with many of their top stars having been involved in Indian T20 league action, they may just need an overdue rest. For that reason, England are tipped to win this match as well.

 

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