New Zealand have resisted the temptation to throw Daniel Vettori straight back into the side for their second Test with England at Headingley.
The 34-year-old was recalled to the squad after Bruce Martin was ruled out with a calf injury.
However, Vettori has not played for almost a year since an operation on a Achilles injury and the Black Caps medical team were wary of risking him. He is though looking a safe ICC Champions Trophy bet
It means New Zealand will have to go four an all-seam attack with Doug Bracewell coming in for Martin. It also means that part-time spinner Kane Williamson will have to take some of the bowling strain in Yorkshire.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said: “Dan, (coach) Mike Hesson and I spoke about how Dan was feeling and he wasn’t quite confident he’d be able to get through five days.
“His Test future is something we need to discuss regarding what he wants to prioritise in his career, but we certainly see a place for him.
McCullum himself will take the wicketkeeping gloves after BJ Watling was rules out with a knee injury.
It caps a difficult view days for New Zealand who also had to recover from their mauling at Lord’s and are vast outsiders in the England v New Zealand betting.
New Zealand battled bravely for much of the first Test and when they took the final four wickets in England’s second innings cheaply on the fourth morning, setting a victory target of 239, they must have fancied their chances.
However, the side’s fragile batting line-up was exposed yet again and crumbled in the face of some devastating bowling by Stuart Broad, who ended with figures of 7-44.
The Black Caps were dismissed for just 68, the 10th lowest Test score at Lord’s, and know they now have to win at Headingley in order to save the series.
If there is one thing we learned from England’s opening Test victory over New Zealand last week it is that the top order must improve if this team is to challenge Australia for the Ashes.
Both Alastair Cook and Nick Compton put on reasonable displays during their first Test of the summer yet neither proved the rock at the top betting fans looking for cricket tips were hoping for.
Much like their reverse series in New Zealand earlier this year, England had to rely on batsmen further down the order to scrape them clear and their dangerously slow rate last Thursday morning is a real concern.
Both Cook and Compton recorded sub-30 strike rates on a bat-friendly wicket at Lord’s that openly opened up for the bowlers over the weekend. It was a pedestrian performance from the opening pair and it was only Jonathan Trott’s quick-fire innings that got the game into full swing.
Yet it was only by the fifth and sixth men that England made something of this match and both Joe Root (40 & 71) and Jonny Bairstow (41) can rightly be proud of their contributions.
The Yorkshire pair did what Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell have done so often in the past and held up the innings when top-order batsmen failed to do their job.
England cannot afford to keep letting their middle order make up for the failings of the top and what won them the Ashes Down Under in 2010/11 was a strong leading partnership in Andrew Strauss and Cook.
People claim Compton is still learning the ropes but he’s an eight-Test 29-year-old with his name in Wisden now. He cut his cloth in India last winter and now must step up and match Cook blow for blow.
England v New Zealand betting fans have got England down as Ashes favourites but this could swing if the batsmen don’t improve – which gives even more impetus for a good performance in the second Test at Headingley.
Matt Prior has become the first wicketkeeper to be named England Cricketer of the Year.
The Sussex star beat England captain Alastair Cook and last year’s winner James Anderson to the award at a awards dinner at Lord’s.
It caps a fine 12 months for the 31-year-old, who matched his consistency with the gloves with fine form with the bat.
He hit seven Test half centuries during 2013 but will perhaps be best remembered for his memorable performance in Auckland in March.
Prior’s defiant 110 not out on the fifth and final day of the final Test helped England to salvaged the draw when defeat looked inevitable, ensuring the series remained 0-0.
“I’ve no doubt the innings in against New Zealand is pretty fresh in people’s minds so that’s probably had something to do with it,” Prior said
“It was great to get over the line, a hugely proud moment but from a team point of view we want to be winning Test matches not drawing them.
“But to save a game for your country is a great feeling and I was very proud.”
The South-African born star is preparing for the first Test of the English summer, also against New Zealand, at Lord’s on Thursday. The hosts are heavy favourites in the cricket betting, despite their struggles against the same opposition last time out.
It marks the start of a busy and exciting calendar for England, taking in the ICC Champions Trophy and back-to-back Ashes series against Australia.
Despite the challenges lying ahead Prior insists he is fully focused on the Black Caps, adding: You can’t have Test matches that are warm-ups,” he said. “Every Test match is a special moment.
“You only have to walk into this ground at Lord’s and walk out playing for your country.
“This series is massive. We had a tough series in New Zealand and we want to put in good performances and get a win.”
New Zealand paceman Trent Boult says he expects England to “hit new Zealand hard” when the two sides resume their rivalry at Lord’s this week.
The Black Caps are preparing for a two match Test series against Andy Flower’s men just two months after the sides met in New Zealand.
Back then the wet weather forced draws in the opening two Tests before a defiant 110 not out from wicketkeeper Matt Prior helped England salvage a dramatic draw in the final Test in Auckland and keep the series at 0-0.
Most punters who placed a cricket bet on the series did not expect England to encounter too many problems against the Kiwis, who surprised many with their performance.
Boult was one of those who impressed for Mike Hesson’s men and it will be interesting to see how he copes on foreign soil.
England are again heavy favourites in the betting to claim the return series and Boult is bracing himself for an English backlash, though he also insists his team-mates are primed and ready.
“We’re in their home town now and we know they’re a world-class side,” said the 23-year-old.
“They are definitely going to hit us hard. We are expecting that and are ready for it.”
Thursday’s clash will be the first time Boult will have played at the home of English cricket and he admits he is delighted to be able to play at such an historic ground.
There is no doubt there’s a great feel to the ground. It’s awesome to be here,” he added. “A big opportunity lies ahead of us and we’re looking forward to taking it on.”
Graeme Swann says he is “quietly confident” his elbow woes are behind him ahead of an exciting summer of English cricket.
Swann was forced home from England’s winter tour of New Zealand in order to undergo an operation on his troublesome elbow injury.
Bone fragments that that were dangerously close to the nerve had to be removed, a procedure that carried some risk to Swann’s career.
However, the operation was a success and, after two months on the sidelines, the 34-year-old returned to action for Nottinghamshire at the start of the English domestic summer.
He bowled 40.2 overs in a County Championship defeat to Durham earlier this month and featured in two YB40 matches last week.
It is a timely return to action for Swann ahead of an unprecedented year that will take in the ICC Champions Trophy and back-to-back Ashes series.
First though is a two-match return Test series with New Zealand, with Swann poised to link up with the squad in London next week.
The off-spinner, who has taken 212 wickets in 50 Test matches for England, is pleased with how his rehabilitation has gone and is excited to return to action.
“It is a long summer but I’ve had four months off now; I’ve not had a break like that since I started playing for England,” he said to Betfair cricket betting pundits.
“Who knows if the arm will hold up? I think it will – I’m quietly confident. It is an amazing summer – it is a long one with the Champions Trophy and two Ashes series; you can’t get better than that, really.”
How about some IPL betting tips to tide you over the weekend? Delhi Daredevils vs Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Kevin Pietersen’s chances of playing any part in the Ashes series this summer are slowly fading after the talismanic batsman revealed he will not play for England during the ICC Champions Trophy this summer.
Pietersen, 32, has been plagued by a knee injury this spring after bruising to the bone kept him out of England’s third Test in New Zealand in March and despite the immediate prognosis indicating a speedy recovery his situation has so far failed to improve.
He was already scheduled to miss England’s reverse Test series with the Kiwis this early summer and has sat out of Delhi Daredevils’ entire IPL season, yet this further withdrawal should seriously concern England cricket fans.
For if Pietersen is not fit to play the ICC Champions Trophy or any of England’s ODI games with New Zealand then Alastair Cook will have a man unfit and out of focus heading into an important Ashes showdown.
Pietersen was one of the shining lights when England defended the Urn in Australia in 2010/11 and his place in the middle order is vital to any success.
In 17 Ashes Tests between 2005 and 2011 the right-hander has an impressive 52.71 batting average and hit three centuries. He has been an ever present in the England side throughout their rise in fortunes during the modern era and that magnificent 227 at Adelaide in 2010 will go down as one of England’s finest ever batting performances.
Unfortunately we are unlikely to witness a repeat performance this summer if Pietersen cannot fully recover in time to get some first-class practice under his belt before the opening delivery on 10 July.
Australia have named a relatively weak travelling squad for the Ashes and this should convince England betting fans to back their nation heavily for the win, although whether or not Pietersen will have a say in the matter is sadly yet to be decided.
South African batsman Ashwell Prince believes Lancashire are in a great position to be able to secure promotion back to Division One at the first time of asking.
Playing as the county’s overseas player last summer, the South African was part of the Lancashire side that were tipped in betting news to do well but surprisingly suffered relegation to Division Two after a disappointing County Championship.
This season, though, the batsman has signed a new two-year deal to play for the Red Rose as a Kolpak player, and has made it clear his full focus in on playing for Lancashire.
Following Prince’s last appearance for South African in 2011, the Proteas have gone onto dominate the Test game, reaching the top of the world rankings following a 15-match unbeaten run.
The left-hander averaged over 40 during his 66 Test career, but even that impressive record hasn’t been enough to fight his way back into the South Africa side and younger batsman have now climbed ahead of Prince in the pecking order.
With the current Test team playing so well, Prince has reluctantly accepted his international cricket days are over. That won’t be the worst news for Lancashire fans, with the 35-year old now fully focused on helping the county achieve promotion at the first attempt this season. Prince certainly believes that is a real possibility this season with the quality players in this Lancashire squad, a view backed up by cricket betting news writers.
“I don’t have anything to prove to anyone back home. I still think I’m good enough to play Test cricket. My record is there and if people don’t have the belief in me anymore then there’s nothing more I can do. I’m here and I’m committed to playing for Lancashire.”
“The addition of Simon Katich, as well as the other new recruits, has made the squad stronger. We are where we are and we’ve got a job to do to get back,” admitted the batsman.
England seamer Stuart Broad is excited by the prospect of preparing for a busy summer of international cricket in the County Championship.
The 26-year-old will make a rare appearance for Nottinghamshire when they travel to Derbyshire on April 24. He could also feature when Durham visit Trent Bridge on April 29, though that could depend on his workload in Derby.
England will hope Broad can pick up where he left off after an encouraging series in New Zealand. The fast bowler struggled with form and fitness in India before Christmas but appeared to be over his heel injury as he delivered a much-improved performance with the ball against the Black Caps.
Broad, who has 183 Test wickets, will form part of England’s attack when they host the Kiwis in a two-match series next month. He wants to hit the ground running at the start of the new season.
“I haven’t played a lot of county cricket for the last couple of years but I’m really looking forward to getting in shape for what is a really big eight months ahead of us,” he told Sky Sports News.
“I’ve had two weeks off the feet and now it’s a real intense lift for the county season, a few games for Notts and then hopefully into the international summer.”
Broad is one of a number of England players set to turn out for their counties over the next few weeks, including Tim Bresnan, who is now fully fit after elbow surgery.
“We (England) had a couple of niggles over the winter but the guys seem to be coming back to full fitness for what is such an exciting time for an England cricketer,” Broad said.
England host the Champions Trophy this summer before back-to-back Ashes series against great rivals Australia.
Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, and Zaheer Khan were all notable absentees from India’s ICC Champions Trophy squad for this summer’s tournament, casting doubt over the future of the experienced trio’s international future.
Pragyan Ojha and Cheteshwar Pujara were another two big name players to miss out on the 30-man party that will travel to England for the final ever Champions Trophy.
While the omission of Harbhajan and Zaheer may not have been massive surprises considering both have been missing from the one-day side for some time now, there were more than a few raised eyebrows when it emerged Sehwag wouldn’t be in the squad.
Despite struggling with his form since the turn of the year, many cricket betting news outlets expected India to keep Sehwag at the top of the order for a tournament India will feel they can win.
It’s clear the selectors are focusing on looking to the future, but it still seems an odd decision to leave out a batsman who just two years ago hit the highest ODI score with his sensational 219 against the West Indies.
Fellow Test outcast Gautam Gambhir will travel to England after being named in a squad which also includes a number of untested youngsters in Jalaj Saxena, Siddharth Kaul, Kedar Jadhav and Ishwar Yadav.
Fit-again Umesh Yadav and Praveen Kumar have also been included among the 30 man party which will be cut down to a final 15 in May before the tournament begins the following month.
And there is a place for Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Parvez Rasool, who makes history as the first player from the troubled region to join the senior international ranks.
For fans taking advantage of an in-play bet offer; this Indian squad still has enough quality in it to cause any team problems, and not many would rule India out of mounting a real challenge in this year’s tournament.
One of the things non-cricket fans struggle to comprehend about the game is how teams can play for five days yet still only draw. England and New Zealand have gone better than that, playing nearly 15 days of cricket only to see the series tied at 0-0.
That scoreline barely tells half the story, though, certainly on a thrilling final day in Auckland which saw the New Zealand v England Cricket Betting veer one way then the next.
New Zealand may well have triumphed in Dunedin had it not been for the rain, while poor weather probably cost England victory in Wellington – so Eden Park would always going to be the decider.
With the weather set fair the game was allowed to be played through to its conclusion – and what a conclusion it was.
England were staring down the barrel at the start of the final day, slumped on 90-4 and with the winning target of 481 well out of reach – it was all about survival.
Joe Root and Ian Bell gave England their first sense of belief, holding firm until just before lunch, when Root was trapped lbw by Trent Boult with the new ball.
Bell and Jonny Bairstow were both dropped just before the interval and although the latter would not last much beyond the break, Bell would stick around for the majority of the afternoon session, eventually departing for a 271-ball five and a half hour 75.
By then Matt Prior was at the crease and he turned in a match-winning 110 not out, curbing his attacking instincts to guide the tail through to the conclusion. He rode his luck, not least when the ball cannoned off his helmet before knocking into the stumps, but crucially failing to dislodge the bails.
Stuart Broad, whose batting has deteriorated in recent years, defiantly stuck around for 77 balls, showing the patience his petulant display on day four sadly lacked.
Still despite their efforts Broad’s eventual dismissal was quickly followed by Jimmy Anderson, leaving Monty Panesar 21 balls to try and survive with Prior.
Monty is a cult hero with England fans, as much for his perceived weaknesses than his skills, but he gamely held on here in the most trying of circumstances, even if his comedy mis-timed slide while chasing one run set hearts a fluttering.
In a situation that can only occur in Test cricket, five days of sporting action, largely dominated by the hosts, came down to the last over, with Panesar’s single off the second ball the most important he has ever scored in international cricket.
Prior saw out the over to secure an unlikely draw and save face for England after a below par tour. Following the highs of India’s and the looming challenge of Australia, it seems New Zealand were somewhat overlooked. But despite some poor days, England always seems to respond when they are backed into a corner. Something that will serve their Ashes odds well in this year of cricket.