New Zealand and England will take their cricketing rivalry into the Test arena on Thursday (November 21) after finding themselves evenly matched in recent limited-overs nail-biters.
England have bragging rights after winning a rollercoaster World Cup final in July, then edging the Black Caps 3-2 in a desperately close T20I series completed earlier this month.
Both the World Cup and T20I series decider needed tie-breakers to find a winner, and there will be no shortage of mutual respect when the rivals face off again in the first Test at Mount Maunganui.
Black Caps omit Lockie Ferguson, to go with the experienced attack
New Zealand had five high-quality fast-bowlers to pick from, but Kane Williamson confirmed that they would be going with Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner – the three who have been so instrumental in their strong home record over the past six years. That means Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry will miss out this time round.
Mitchell Santner has also got the nod ahead of Todd Astle.
Williamson, meanwhile, denied Ferguson had missed his best chance of a red-ball call-up this summer, with series against Australia and India also looming.
“His chances are the same as every game we turn up to and have a look at the surface and pick the team best suited to it,” he told the reporters in Tauranga. “I don’t think it really matters whether it’s the first game of a reasonable period of test cricket or not.
“We know how good he is – he hasn’t quite been exposed to red-ball cricket just yet – but there’s no doubt he’s ready to go, if and when that opportunity comes.
“We know he’s brings something a little bit different, which is really exciting, but we’ve picked 15 for five test matches in a row, and no doubt he will always be discussed.”
New Zealand’s Playing XI for the first Test against England:
Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.