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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine