Staying in the present is easier said than done for England and New Zealand in their two-match test series starting on Wednesday.
For New Zealanders, priority №1 this international summer is the opening final of the World Test Championship, which sees them battling India in the southern English city of Southampton from June 18-22 – four days after the end of the English series.
In fact, this final is the reason they ended up in the UK, as the test series against England was added relatively late for financial reasons in the pandemic, as well as everything else.
For the British, there is a higher-ranking test series against India – containing five games – starting in August before the Ashes Down Under series in December.
The fact that England is without many leading players, including Ben Stokes and Joffre Archer, only adds to the feeling that the series is something of a warm-up to the bigger things to come.
Of course, many of the players involved will have different views.
Take, for example, goalkeeper James Bracey, who will make his debut for England after a Ben Fox injury and while another Joss Butler absent after his recent participation in the Indian Premier League.
Or Jimmy Anderson, the enduring fast bowling alley in England, who, if selected for the first Lord’s test, will tie Alastair Cook’s record for the country’s performance in most tests (161).
As for New Zealand, the big prize is obviously the WTC, but winning a test series in England is never something to be ridiculed for. What better preparation for the one-time test in India than playing two competitive five-day matches in English conditions, in particular the pitches and the ball of Dukes?
Except, of course, a key player as captain Kane Williamson gets hurt.
And then there’s the fact that Black Hats are returning to Lord’s for the first time since their painful loss to England in the World Cup final in July 2019. It’s a different format and a lot of different bets, but the win will still be sweet. – especially given that New Zealand won only one test at Lord’s in 1999.
“It’s a different country and it’s been a while since that day,” Williamson said in a video interview on Tuesday, when he simply referred to the 2019 final as a “moment in time.”
“The focus is different. He certainly has no idea that he owes anyone anything. “
Devon Conway has to make his test debut for New Zealand, opening the wad with Tom Latham. Sheimer Trent Bult is not available for selection – probably for both tests – after returning to New Zealand after stopping IPL.
England will choose an exhausted team. In addition to injuries to Stokes (broken finger), Archer (elbow) and Fox (hamstring), Butler, Johnny Beirstov, Chris Wakes, Sam Quran and Mouen Ali will not turn on after receiving an extended rest period after IPL.
That leaves the captain Joe Koren without a specialist around the world, something he identified as one of the biggest challenges in this series.
Ruth confirmed Tuesday that Brace will make her debut, but gave no other clues about the squad, except that Stuart Brod has a “better chance” of playing in both tests after being selected as vice-captain on Tuesday. .
For Root, the road to the ashes starts with a “marker” this summer against the first two teams in the test standings.
“There will be ongoing talks about Australia this summer. There is no way out of this. That’s extremely important, absolutely, “Ruth said.
“We will best prepare for this by performing well in these seven test matches. Talking about country readiness, winning seven test matches and going to Australia is the best way to do that. Fill the party with confidence and execute a game plan. “
Capacity for the Lord’s test will be limited to 25%, and England will gradually break the restrictions on coronavirus. The House of Cricket has not hosted an international ash test game between England and Australia in 2019.
The second test at Edgbaston in Birmingham will welcome 18,000 fans every day – 70% capacity – because it was chosen as the first of the last pilot events of the British government to resume mass participation.