England's busy cricket summer season starts with a mouth-watering two-match Test series against New Zealand at home. The series opener begins Tuesday (June 2) with the Home of Cricket, Lord's hosting the encounter.
And of course, the match will mark the return of fans. The last time England played a home match in front of a live audience was the final Ashes Test in September 2019. Then, COVID-19 arrived.
England will be without their Indian Premier League (IPL) stars, but the presence of pace-pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad makes it more than watchable. Anderson will be extra-motivated as he needs just five wickets to overtake Indian spin great Anil Kumble as the third-most successful bowler in Test cricket.
Then, there is prodigious Joe Root, the skipper, who will need to play at his best in absence of other batting stars. Wicketkeeper James Bracey will be making his Test debut.
Also, this is a redemption time for England who had a forgettable tour of India months ago.
The visitors have their own selection worries, especially with pace attack with Trent Boult still at home. But the BlackCaps are in a better position. While skipper Kane Williamson and veteran Ross Taylor will be eager to milk runs, the likes of Tim Southee and Matt Henry are likely to use the match as a warm-up for the ICC World Test Championship final against India.
Match and telecast details:
Match: First Test match between England and New Zealand:
Days: June 2 to June 6, 2021
Time: 3:30 PM IST/ 11:00 AM Local
Venue: Lords, London, England
TV Channels: Sony Six/HD
Live Streaming: SonyLIV and website (subscription required)
This will be their 106th meeting in the traditional format of the game, with England leading the head-to-head record 48-11. But England have failed to win against New Zealand in the last five matches - losing three, drawing two. The last time, England beat New Zealand was way back in 2015, at the same venue.
For England, this will be their 1035th match (377 wins, 308 loses, 349 draws). For New Zealand, this will be their 447th match (105 wins, 175 loses and 166 draws).
England: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence, James Bracey (wk), Craig Overton, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin De Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner.
England: Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Daniel Lawrence, James Bracey (wk), Craig Overton, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Sam Billings, Olly Stone, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, Haseeb Hameed.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Doug Bracewell, Will Young, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Devon Conway, Ajaz Patel, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra.