To the delight of England fans everywhere Jonny Bairstow, who has averaged only 20.25 in Tests this year and has a terrible tendency to get out clean bowled, has been dropped. This will give Jos Buttler a chance to stake a claim to become the permanent holder of the wicket keeping gloves, as well as allowing him to play in his more natural position down the order as an attacking wicket keeper batsman.
The test squad also features exciting young talents in the form of opener Dominic Sibley and middle order batsman Ollie Pope. Sibley has been in exquisite form in the County Championship this summer, scoring 1324 runs at an average of 69.68 at the top of the order, an incredibly difficult position given the County Championship’s early start this year and the prodigious new ball swing that invariably opens innings in England. Whilst he may need time to adjust to the test format fans will be hoping that he can form a partnership with Rory Burns at the top of the order and finally solve England’s opening partnership conundrum, an issue left unresolved since Strauss retired in 2012.
Pope, perhaps the most exciting batting talent to come out of England since Joe Root, returns to the side after playing 2 tests last summer. The 21-year-old missed some cricket this summer due to injury but still managed to score heavily in the games he played, averaging 80.14 and scoring a massive 221* against Hampshire. The youngster, who bats at five for Surrey, will hope that he can seize his chance in New Zealand and become a permanent fixture in the test side for years to come.
The squad also features a few nods to the future, suggesting that England are following the advice of pundits and preparing with the next Ashes series in mind. Highly tipped talents Zac Crawley, a 21 year old opening batsman, Matthew Parkinson, a 22 year old spinner, and Saqib Mahmood, a 22 year old fast bowler, have been included in the squad and while they may not play in New Zealand the experience they’ll gain on the tour will be good preparation for them to potentially play in Australia in 2021/22.
Whilst the test series might not count towards the World Test Championships England will feel it is vitally important for them to get back to winning ways. The series will be a good opportunity for the team to get used to playing without Jimmy Anderson, missing through injury, and whilst the New Zealand squad contains great players such as Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, England will fancy their chances with atmospheric and pitch conditions likely to play to their bowling attack’s strengths.
The series looks set to be an exciting, competitive one between two evenly matched teams as New Zealand will be looking to avenge England's narrow victory in the World Cup final. After a couple of months break following this summer’s feast of cricket, fans will be raring to go once the series starts on 20th November.