Sign up to our free sport newsletter for all the latest news on everything from cycling to boxing
Sign up to our free sport email for all the latest news
Thanks for signing up to the
England will take an unchanged team into their series decider against New Zealand, with one look at the grassy Basin Reserve pitch enough to relieve their bowling attack of any aches and pains.
Switching up the seamers was a possibility after last week’s 267-run win in Mount Maunganui, with Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Ollie Robinson suffering soreness after their exertions at Bay Oval.
Durham’s Matthew Potts and Nottinghamshire’s Olly Stone were on hand to come in if required but, after assessing a lush green surface on Wednesday, the men in possession were not even contemplating a rest in Wellington.
Captain Ben Stokes said: “It was just a case of seeing how the bowlers pulled up and they’ve pulled up pretty well, especially after seeing the pitch.
“There’s a lot of grass out there, it looks like the lines for the wicket have been painted on the outfield. The bowlers were licking their lips. They might have been stiff yesterday, but after they looked at the pitch felt a little bit looser.
“They’re not training today so I just texted all three of them saying ‘are you good for the game?’ and they just said ‘yeah’. It’s pretty simple.
“It is a fine line between picking the strongest XI but also making sure the bowlers are 100 per cent ready to go. It was pretty easy to name the team once they gave me the all clear that they were good to go.”
The enthusiasm of the English pace attack to try their luck in appealing conditions does not guarantee a clatter of cheap wickets, of course, with the venue renowned for looking livelier than it plays at time.
And nobody knows how well the ground can play better than England’s head coach Brendon McCullum, who made a career-best 302 against India here in 2014.
Stokes said: “You can’t read too much into that, pitches here can offer a lot for the seamers but we’ve also heard from Baz that it can sometimes play into the favour of the batters.
“In our changing room we have the honours board for batters and bowlers. You can see people have taken five for six wickets but also gone for a few runs. There’s also people on the board who have scored massive hundreds.”
Anderson will lead the England attack having returned to top spot in the International Cricket Council’s bowling rankings at the age of 40, the oldest player to hit number one since Clarrie Grimmett in 1936.
The Lancastrian’s seven-wicket haul in the first Test saw him replace Australia captain Pat Cummins after a four-year stint at the summit, yet another distinction for a player with more dismissals than any other pace bowler in the history of the game.
Asked if it would be enough to raise a smile from a man who wilfully leans into his reputation for grumpiness, Stokes said: “No, I don’t think he’ll be that fussed by it to be honest, he’ll just keeping doing his thing.
“But for me personally, Jimmy has been the best – certainly one of the best – in the world for a long time. He’s someone I always look to throw the ball to when I need a wicket.”
Black Caps skipper Tim Southee, another long-serving seamer with 15 years of Test experience under his belt, paid tribute to his opponent.
“He’s phenomenal, he has been for a long time. To see a 40-year-old sitting at the top of the charts is pretty amazing,” he said.
“It’s great longevity. The toll it takes on his body and the way he’s able to keep going and keep performing, he’s great for the game.”
Source: Read Full Article