England 24%, New Zealand 46%, Draw 30% for Lord’s says my model. Here I’ll explore why I disagree with the bookmakers (who say 40%/25%/35%*), then give crusty crumbs of comfort to England supporters, and finally share what I think players would average if we played the series forever.
Advantage New Zealand
- The visitors will have seven batters who have performed at Test level (Devon Conway came along just when needed, with 767 runs in his first seven Tests). Meanwhile England’s top three average in the twenties (Lees/Crawley/Pope). Yes, two of them are better than that, but you get the point.
- New Zealand should have four front-line pace bowlers, well suited to early-summer in England. As a collective, their five possible quick bowlers have 105 wickets at 26 in blighty**. The hosts chose Jack Leach (which I see as a brave move at Lord’s). Pace tends to do well at Lord’s – 26 rpw vs 39 spin. I expect pace to dominate in early June.
- Have an actual allrounder (Colin de Grandhomme). Contrast this with England who will probably gamble on Root to be fifth bowler. England may need to discount Stokes’ bowling (four wickets at 57 this summer, 11 at 43 in the last year of Tests). With Leach/Root as two of the five bowlers, England would have to field last if they won the toss, even if that’s not optimal. New Zealand can be more flexible.
Reasons to be cheerful (if you’re English)
- New Zealand (World Test Champions, last two years W8 D2 L3) have an excellent record but may have peaked as a team. Ross Taylor and BJ Watling have retired. Trent Boult (32) is likely rested for the first Test, having only played four Tests since Jan 2021. Like all modern tourists, they’re undercooked. Being 70-8 last week against an attack featuring Ben Gibbon hints NZ aren’t in mid-season form. Don’t mention: England have W7 D7 L12 in the last two years.
- James Anderson. Last three years averages 23. Yes he’s two months shy of his 40th birthday, but still has 12 wickets at 23 in the county championship this summer, which is strong in the context of the runfest we’ve seen. Don’t mention: Anderson’s strike rate is 69 this championship summer, and in the last 12 months averages 29 in Tests. If NZ can see him off, plenty of first innings overs against spin await.
- Pope – averages 32 against pace, 22 against spin. Has a great chance to prove himself at number three. Similarly, Stokes (40/33) prefers pace. And Leach (37/6, tiny sample size) Don’t mention: Root (44/69), Bairstow (29/43) are the opposite. Or that Crawley averages 18 against Right-arm Medium in Tests.
Expect an even contest between bat and ball, with average scores just over 300.
And, in case my model is running in Garbage In Garbage Out mode, here’s the expected averages I fed it:
Am all ears as to how England are favourites – find me @edmundbayliss on twitter, or comment here.
*I’m so far off-market here that this can’t be right. What could I be missing? Leach’s spin? Overrating Williamson? Is Potts the new Archer?
** Synonym for England / Great Britain. Note: must check how proper writers avoid saying “England” as every tenth word.