With England and New Zealand set to take on each other next week, Sarah Waris picks out a combined current XI from the players selected for the series.
New Zealand squad for England Tests: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Cameron Fletcher, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young
England squad for the first two New Zealand Tests: Ben Stokes (c), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Craig Overton, Matthew Potts, Ollie Pope, Joe Root
England-New Zealand combined current XI
4,502 runs @ 41.68
With England’s current openers struggling for runs and consistency, two New Zealanders will have to see off the new ball. Latham, who fills in as captain for Kane Williamson when the full-time skipper is absent, is well on course to end up as one of the greats of the country. Since the start of 2016, only three men have made more runs opening the batting in Test cricket than Latham.
767 runs @ 63.91
Conway made his Test debut in England last year and marked his arrival in style with scores of 200, 23, 80 and 3 in his first four innings – those runs helped New Zealand to their first Test series win in the country since 1999. Conway later hit a half-century in the World Test Championship final and continued his impressive form during the summer at home, hitting two hundreds against Bangladesh.
Kane Williamson (captain)
7,272 runs @ 53.47
With Joe Root stepping down as England skipper and Ben Stokes yet to prove his mettle, Williamson will be the leader of this XI. A member of the ‘Fab Four’, the right-hander has scored 4,549 Test runs since the start of 2015 at an incredible average of 64.07.
9.889 runs @ 49.19
The former England captain is within touching distance of becoming only the second England player to cross 10,000 runs in the format, after Alastair Cook. He was the leading Test run-scorer in the world in 2021, and now faces the task of solely focusing on his batting.
5,061 runs @ 35.89
174 wickets @ 32.12
Regarded as one of the best all-rounders in the world, Stokes’ presence in the XI comes as no surprise. After a difficult Ashes series, he hit his 11th Test hundred in England’s tour of the Caribbean in March. Now comes the task of doing it all – batting, bowling, captaining – for a side desperately searching for a win or two.
Jonny Bairstow (wk)
4,801 runs @ 34.53
Bairstow has divided opinions on the Test circuit across a decade-long career, but he enjoyed a productive winter, scoring hundreds against Australia and the West Indies. Tom Blundell and Ben Foakes are both still finding their feet at Test level so Bairstow takes the gloves for this side – as a wicketkeeper he averages 37.37 compared to his career average of 34.53.
351 runs @ 23.40
66 wickets @ 18.72
No.7 may be a spot too high, but space has to be made for a bowler who was crucial in helping New Zealand to the World Test Championship title last year and can give the ball a decent whack.
338 wickets @ 28.19
The Kiwi quick is one of his country’s all-time greats and, at 33, is still a relentless force. Since the start of 2021, nine Tests have produced 38 wickets at an average of 25.42. Beware, England – he took 7-80 last year at Lord’s, where the first Test will be held.
301 wickets @ 27.42
Alongside Southee, there must also be Boult. This is how it’s been for years now. The left-armer has been mighty effective in England, picking up 32 wickets from six games at an average of 21.59.
537 wickets @ 27.80
Broad has returned to the England set-up and stands as one of his country’s greatest bowlers. Prior to his omission for the tour of the West Indies, he showed his willingness to battle during the Ashes, taking 13 wickets at 26.30.
640 wickets @ 26.58
The 39-year-old is England’s leading wicket-taker and is all set for another summer with a fresh Dukes at his disposal.