England will look to put off-field hoo-ha behind them when they return to the Test arena against New Zealand in May and June, live on Sky Sports.
The side’s build-up to the their two-Test tussle with the Black Caps has been dominated by the reveal of Andrew Strauss as England’s director of cricket, the sacking of coach Peter Moores and the continued exile of batsman Kevin Pietersen due to “trust issues”.
But this week’s clash at Lord’s will allow England, who will be coached on an interim basis by Paul Frabrace, to focus on-field matters, namely getting to grips with a confident New Zealand outfit and building momentum ahead of their quest to regain the Ashes later this summer.
The non-selection of Pietersen means the team’s middle order will remain unchanged, with the only minor tweak that England’s Cricketer of the Year Joe Root will now combine his batting with the role of vice-captain.
But skipper Alastair Cook will have a fresh-faced opener alongside him, with Yorkshire run-getter Adam Lyth the man chosen to replace Jonathan Trott who quit international cricket after a tricky tour of the West Indies.
Lyth may not be the only Test debutant at HQ, though, with Durham seamer Mark Wood competing with, you feel, county colleague Ben Stokes and Sussex paceman Chris Jordan for a spot in the final XI.
James Anderson is all-but guaranteed to feature in his 104th Test and could be celebrating 400 Test wickets at the end of it as he currently sits three scalps shy of that milestone.
Not that knocking over New Zealand’s batsmen should be easy, with Brendon McCullum’s charges heading to England not just on the back of a World Cup final appearance but also a stellar run in Test cricket.
The Black Caps have not lost a Test series since doing so in England two summers ago, beating West Indies, Sri Lanka and India along the way, so will be far more than just an Ashes warm-up for Cook, Root and co.
In a thrilling summer of cricket ahead, Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium, Lord’s, Edgbaston, Trent Bridge and The Kia Oval will stage Investec Test Matches as England bid to regain the famous Ashes urn and win a fourth successive home Ashes series following their previous triumphs in 2005, 2009 and 2013.
After the Ashes, England and Australia will do battle again in a NatWest IT20 at Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium before the international season reaches its climax in September with The Ageas Bowl, Lord’s, Emirates Old Trafford and Headingley hosting matches in the Royal London One-Day International series.
Fans can catch both New Zealand Tests – the second begins on Friday, May 29 at Headingley – live on Sky Sports, with coverage featuring commentary and expert analysis from the likes of David Gower, Sir Ian Botham, Nasser Hussain, Shane Warne, Michael Atherton and David Lloyd.
Sky viewers will also be able to stay right up to speed via our Twitter account @SkyCricket, Sky Sports News HQ and through Sky’s interactive blog on skysports.com, while nightly highlights and Verdict programmes on Sky Sports are also must-see.
Cricket fans without Sky Sports will be able to follow nightly highlights of the Test and ODI series on Channel 5, with hour-long free-to-air highlights of each day’s play during the Test series airing at 7.00pm, presented by Mark Nicholas, with commentary from Geoffrey Boycott, Michael Vaughan and Simon Hughes.
|England v New Zealand 1st Investec Test (Lord’s)||11:00|
|MAY 29 – JUNE 2|
|England v New Zealand 2nd Investec Test (Headingley)||11:00|
|TUESDAY 9th JUNE|
|England v New Zealand 1st Royal London ODI (Edgbaston)||14:00|
|FRIDAY 12th JUNE|
|England v New Zealand 2nd Royal London ODI (The Oval)||13:00|
|SUNDAY 14th JUNE|
|England v New Zealand 3rd Royal London ODI (Ageas Bowl)||10:30|
|WEDNESDAY 17th JUNE|
|England v New Zealand 4th Royal London ODI (Trent Bridge)||14:00|
|SATURDAY 20th JUNE|
|England v New Zealand 5th Royal London ODI (Durham ICG)||10:30|
|TUESDAY 23rd JUNE|
|England v New Zealand NatWest T20 International (Old Trafford)||18:30|