England and New Zealand are set to face each other in the much-awaited Test series that starts next month. The two-match Test leg will begin at Lords Cricket Ground in London on June 02. Similarly, the final Test will be played from June 10 to 14 at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Before the Test series, the Kiwis will play a 4-day Practice Match against County team Somerset.
Ahead of the epic contest, former England captain Michael Vaughan has revealed his combined XI of the hosts England and Black Caps. While speaking at The Show Downstairs, Vaughan picked Tom Latham and Zak Crawley as his openers. The ex-English skipper reckoned that he loves the character of Latham and his fightback quality.
“Tommy Latham (Tom), he goes in first. Love the way he fights. He is a kind of character at the top against the moving ball that I like,” said Vaughan in a video clip shared by Spark Sport on Twitter.
Vaughan heaped praises on Crawley, stating the right-handed batsman has a double ton in the longest format in English conditions.
“I am picking Zak Crawley. He’s had a double century already in Test match cricket in English conditions. He plays the seam as well, so I’m going with Zak Crawley. I really do think he’s got a bright future in Test cricket.”
For number three and four, Vaughan went with both the skippers Kane Williamson and Joe Root.
“Number three, obviously Kane Williamson. You could argue the best player in the world. Joe Root, number four.”
The 46-year-old picked veteran Kiwi batter Ross Taylor for the following position. He even termed Taylor as ‘old warhorse’.
“Ross Taylor at number five. The old warhorse, brilliant player. He must be old because I played against him.”
Vaughan further expressed that he would’ve selected Ben Stokes for number six, but since the English all-rounder is unfit, he has picked Henry Nicholls. Notably, Stokes had injured his finger in the now-postponed Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 and was ruled out of Tests against New Zealand.
“At number six, obviously would have been Ben Stokes, but he is injured, so he goes out of the equation. So, Henry Nicholls gets the slot at number six.”
For the wicket-keeper spot, Vaughan went with BJ Watling – who is set to bid farewell to international cricket post this series. However, the Manchester-born came up with another option of Jos Buttler but picked Watling for his double century against England during the 2019-20 series.
“Now, number seven, I’ve got two brilliant wicketkeeper-batsmen, Jos Buttler – the aggressor – and BJ Watling – Mr. consistent – and I’m going with Mr Consistent, BJ Watling in English conditions. I mean that double century he scored against England in New Zealand in the last series; I can’t look beyond BJ Watling.”
Vaughan went with Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson as his four pacers. He didn’t pick a spinner and gave a reason behind it. The cricketer-turned-commentator asserted that in June, the Duke ball would assist more to seamers rather than spinners.
“Now it’s come down to the bowlers. Number eight, Kyle Jamieson. Brilliant start to his Test career. He can also cloud a few with the bat. And then I go Stuart Broad, and I’ve got Jimmy Anderson (James), and then I’ve got Trent Boult.”
“I am not picking a spinner. June, gotta bit of moisture around, Duke ball, its gonna be moving around. I think as a batting unit, if you get down to the likes of Mitchell Santner and Jack Leach, you’d be delighted, so I’m not picking a spinner.”
Vaughan also explained that it was unfortunate to see Neil Wagner not getting a place in his XI despite being a tremendous bowler in the red-ball format.
“Wagner (Niel Wagner), unfortunate. I this he is tremendous in Test cricket. What he has developed with those slower ball bouncers, it has been absolute fantastic, so he misses out, and that’s my XI.”
Here is Michael Vaughan’s combined XI:
Tom Latham, Zak Crawley, Kane Williamson, Joe Root, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Kyle Jamieson, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Trent Boult.