You could say that the Winter hasn’t been a happy time for England so far, especially after their 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia. They are now set to embark on a Test Series in New Zealand imminently and this will give them a chance to restore a bit of pride and potentially change people’s view of how the last six months have gone.
The two-Test series will be huge for everyone involved as England still have lots to prove.
It’s vitally important that England head into the series determined to right some wrongs while understanding that New Zealand won’t be pushovers. If England were to lose it would be disastrous for a number of reasons but it’s going to be tough going, especially with Thursday being a day-night match which will make batting extremely difficult.
The players and coaching staff have a lot to prove in New Zealand. Jonny Bairstow and James Anderson aside, everyone has underperformed and rightly come in for criticism. There have been big question marks over the England batsmen for a while, even before the winter, and if they fail to deliver the goods against New Zealand they could soon find themselves out of the reckoning, for good.
England have been looking for good batsmen for a while, especially a number three. Skipper Joe Root is by far the best number three England have at their disposal, but he’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to bat there. This has raised question marks as to how England will solve this issue as Vince could stay at three, David Malan could be shifted there, or Liam Livingstone could make his international bow.
There have been questioning marks raised once again about Alastair Cook too. He’s still very capable of producing on the world stage and able to deliver big hundreds but what he lacks is consistency. Should England employ a system that sees players only retain their place if they do the business as has been suggested by many? Or, can they rely on players like Cook as they know he has it in him to score well?
England will be desperate to see a big improvement from off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali too. He endured a difficult and disappointing time at the Ashes as he only managed to take five wickets, and this was at an average of 115. The conditions in New Zealand should suit Ali a lot better so he will be expected to deliver in order to back up the seam attack.
It’s going to be important for England to not only win the two-Test series but to look good en route to victory too. They will be boosted by the return of Ben Stokes who missed the Ashes series. While there will be question marks over his fitness, his mere presence should be a huge boost for the team and it could go on to inspire them to do the business.