England looking to rebuild against Black Caps

By Angus Fraser

In its infinite wisdom the England and Wales Cricket Board will begin promoting the 2009 Ashes today by launching a logo for the series and a video teasing the Australian side on its National day. The event coincides with England departing for an eight-week tour of New Zealand, where they will play two Twenty20 internationals, five one-dayers and three Tests.

The release is all well and good, in that it keeps an important sponsor happy, but it conveniently ignores the fact that England were walloped 5-0 in the last Ashes series, and that several members of the touring squad that sets off for New Zealand will not be playing in 2009 unless the pull their fingers out over the coming weeks.

The trip starts with Paul Collingwood as captain and the feisty all-rounder will want his limited over side to continue the encouraging form it has produced since he took charge. England’s limited over squad contains a handful of Test regulars and 11 players desperate to establish themselves in the Test side. New Zealand are more competent in one-day than Test cricket but the energy this group produces should be enough to see them gain further success.

Once the coloured clothing has been put away Michael Vaughan will take control for what promises to be a very important Test series for him. Vaughan and England are in desperate need of a series victory, having won just two of their eight post-2005 Ashes series. Failure to defeat a bedraggled New Zealand Test side would place Vaughan’s position as captain in jeopardy, along with the Test careers of several of England’s more experienced players.

Big performances are needed from Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, James Anderson, Andrew Strauss and Collingwood, if he is to be seriously considered for Vaughan’s position in the future. The pitches in New Zealand should offer England’s fast bowlers assistance, conditions that Harmison, Hoggard and Anderson must exploit if they wish to retain their places in the side.

Strauss looks set to reclaim his place at the top of the order, with Vaughan moving to three and Ian Bell being pushed down to six. A four month rest will have helped Strauss but he too needs to perform. If these players fail to produce match-winning displays the selectors will be encouraged to introduce younger, fresher players in the summer so that they can gain 12 months and 15 Tests of experience before Australia arrive.

New Zealand are there for the taking. The Black Caps are not a happy bunch. The coach, John Bracewell, is not very popular, the deposed captain, Stephen Fleming is, apparently, counting down the days to his retirement, and in the last 12 months they have lost several senior players. There are fears that more will disappear too, choosing lucrative Twenty20 contracts in India ahead of those offered by the New Zealand Cricket Board.

Shane Bond, the side’s star bowler, is currently in a legal battle with the NZC after agreeing a three year deal with the rebel Indian Cricket League. Initially Bond was told by NZC that his international career would not be threatened if he signing up with ICL, but this changed when the Board of Control for Cricket in India began flexing its muscles. In an attempt to blow the ICL out of the water and promote its own Twenty20 competition, the Indian Premier League, the BCCI has asked other boards to ban players who sign for ICL. The BCCI’s financial clout is persuading other boards to do as they say. Bond is unlikely to play against England.

The changes leave New Zealand with a threadbare side that is yet to find a settled opening combination, whether it be with the bat or ball. Fleming, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori, the captain, are the spine of a side that will compete hard but England should expect to comfortably win the series.

“It’s the start of a new year and it’s an exciting time,” said Peter Moores, the England coach.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice