Joe Root’s reign as England Test captain is over, and the responsibility has been passed to Ben Stokes ahead of this week’s Test series against New Zealand.
Arguably England’s best player now has the weight of captaincy and being their regular match-winner for a busy summer of cricket ahead.
As soon as Root announced he was stepping down, there was only ever one candidate to replace him and that was Stokes as no one else’s place in the side is safe …
So a new era begins, and it will be fascinating to see how Stokes does, given that he lost his only previous Test as captain against the West Indies in 2020.
And New Zealand are a tough opponent to start off against.
Kane Williamson’s team won the inaugural ICC World Test Championship last year and are more than capable of ensuring the Durham all-rounder gets off to the worst possible start.
Things can’t get much worse after the series in the West Indies, but they may do against a well-drilled, efficient outfit in the Kiwis.
However, Brendon McCullum is England’s new head coach and knows New Zealand inside out.
England v New Zealand first test: Date and start time
The first Test between England and New Zealand will start on Thursday, June 2 and it is due to run until Monday, June 6.
The action at Lord’s will start at 11am.
England v New Zealand: TV channel and live stream
The first Test will be broadcast on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket each day.
The match will also be available on NowTV through a day pass or a monthly subscription.
Updates will also be live on talkSPORT throughout the day.
To tune in to talkSPORT or talkSPORT 2 through the website, click HERE for the live stream. You can also listen via the talkSPORT app, on DAB digital radio, through your smart speaker and on 1089 or 1053 AM.
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England v New Zealand: Team news
The big news for England is that James Anderson and Stuart Broad are back in the Test squad.
Both were dropped for the tour to the Windies, where the visitors toiled in the field.
Anderson might turn 40 in July, but he knows just how to bowl in English conditions and has taken 640 Test wickets in a glittering career.
Broad is also approaching the end, but he still offers England a lot.
There is no place for Jos Buttler, despite his incredible form in the IPL, so Ben Foakes will continue with the gloves.
Matthew Fisher, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Robinson and Matthew Parkinson miss out after being part of the West Indies tour side.
Mark Wood, Saqib Mahmood and Chris Woakes are all injured.
There is a first call-up for Durham bowler Matthew Potts, who has taken 35 wickets in the first six matches of the season, including four five-wicket hauls.
Yorkshire’s Harry Brook has been in sensational form with the bat in the County Championship, scoring 758 runs at an average of over 150.
England: Ben Stokes (c), Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Jonathan Bairstow, Ben Foakes, Craig Overton, Matthew Potts, Stuart Broard, James Anderson, Jack Leach
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Hamish Rutherford, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Will Young, Michael Bracewell, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell, Cameron Fletcher, Colin de Grandhomme, Rachin Ravindra, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Ajaz Patel, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult
England v New Zealand: Schedule
- Lord’s, London – June 2 / June 6
- Trent Bridge, Nottingham – June 10 / June 14
- Headingley, Leeds – June 23 / June 27
England v New Zealand: What has been said?
Rob Key, managing Director for England, said: “This is the start of a new era for our Test team under the stewardship of Ben and Brendon.
“With a blend of youth and experience, we have selected an exciting squad that can compete with New Zealand in next month’s Test series.
“We have rewarded players in Harry Brook and Matty Potts who have had outstanding starts to the County season, and they deserve the opportunity to stake a claim at this level.
“It promises to be a mouthwatering series, and I can’t wait for the team to start against a very good New Zealand side. It is a fascinating prospect for everyone connected with the sport in this country. “
On being picked to be Test captain, Stokes told talkSPORT: “I don’t think that’s a job that is an easy thing that is ever easy to turn down for anybody.
“Obviously you’ve got to put some thought into it, not just a ‘yeah alright I’ll have a go’ because there’s a lot of things to consider, but there was no hesitation.”
On the new era, Anderson told talkSPORT: “I’m no stranger to bringing about change within a team environment and I can’t wait to get started.
“You’d probably say that Rob and Brendon are slightly left field picks for those roles considering the sort of people that had those roles in the past, but I think it’s an exciting time.”
“Certainly with Brendon as Test coach, having played against him a lot and seeing him as New Zealand captain, seeing how forward thinking he was, how attacking he was, it’s just an exciting time.”
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