The only saving grace for Joe Root during England’s first Test against New Zealand was that at least he wasn’t Australian skipper Steve Smith.
While the eyes of the cricketing world were on the Aussie’s ball tampering in South Africa, the Three Lions subsided to another humiliating away innings defeat – part of a record run of 12 overseas matches in a row without a win.
England will hope to avoid making it an unlucky 13 in the second Test in Christchurch – and our cricket expert has taken a look at the best bets.
Selection issues for England
It was a good week to bury bad news for England – Australia’s woes mean the cricketing agenda has moved on from the disastrous 58 all out on the first morning in Auckland, the sixth worst score in their history.
New Zealand bowled well, but the batting was woeful – though at 27/9 it could have been far worse.
While Root has said he and the selectors won’t panic before naming their XI for the second Test, something has to change – this is a side that has been totally outclassed by both Australia and the Blackcaps this winter.
The extra pace of Mark Wood could see him come into contention, and Moeen Ali’s struggles could mean a debut for the Somerset spinner Jack Leach.
However, the biggest problems, as seen with the 58 all out, are with the bat. Hard-hitting Liam Livingstone could come into contention, but England need more grit, rather than quick runs.
Plenty of questions for Root to ponder, then – his England side are 29/20 with Grosvenorsport.com to stop the rot with victory in Christchurch.
Williamson ready to pile on the misery
There are no such issues for New Zealand, who come into this with a settled, and successful side.
Kane Williamson’s men have now lost just one of their last 10 Tests, and are aiming for a first series win over England since 1999.
A draw (available at 2/1) would be enough to get them the trophy, but there’s no doubt the Kiwis will be going all out for the victory in the second Test.
Williamson led from the front with a century, which came after he also reached three figures in the ODI series, and the NZ skipper is in fine form.
The 7/2 for him to add a record 19th Test century could be a shrewd bet.
Back the Blackcaps for this one
After a miserable winter, England look like they need a miracle to remain competitive in a Test match, let alone actually win one.
While individually the talent is there, it really hasn’t come together for the Three Lions, and after six months on the road, there’ll be plenty in the ranks who can’t wait to come home.
New Zealand are a strong team, especially on home soil, and I can only see this going one way.
Back a NZ victory at 27/20 with Grosvenorsport.com.
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