England v New Zealand: Selection issues for both sides ahead of first Test at Lord's

Last updated: 16th May 2013  

England v New Zealand: Selection issues for both sides ahead of first Test at Lord's

England brave the tough conditions to practice at Lord's ahead of the series opener

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England kick-off their hectic home summer on Thursday when the two-Test series against New Zealand gets underway at Lord's.

Alastair Cook's side have been insistent in the build-up that they are not looking ahead to the Ashes to come, and there is unfinished business with the Kiwis after the two nations fought out a 0-0 stalemate during the winter.

Indeed, had it not been for the last-day heroics of Matt Prior in the final Test at Eden Park, New Zealand would have celebrated a series victory over Cook's crew.

England's bowlers found wickets harder to come by than many expected against the Black Caps so will be looking to make the most of home comforts - as well as the use of the Duke ball, which has a raised seam in comparision to its Kookaburra counterpart.

"I think from a bowling point of view, the first Test of the summer, English conditions, whoever you're bowling at you want to just be testing their defence," Stuart Broad, who finished as England's best bowler on the recent tour with 11 wickets, said.

"You want to be top of off/top of 'fourth-stump', bringing the edge into play and threatening the stumps from time to time.

"As a team we want to get back to basics, challenge the defence of each New Zealand batsman - and I hope you'll see that this week."

Selection issues

Bad weather forced England to train inside on Tuesday and although there may be interruptions during the series opener, the forecast for the opening day seems to be set fair.

Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan are both back from elbow injuries, with the latter seemingly battling with Steven Finn for the final bowling berth in the XI. Kevin Pietersen is still sidelined, so Jonny Bairstow will get a further chance in the middle order alongside in-form Yorkshire team-mate Joe Root.

New Zealand, meanwhile, have decisions to make over their final line-up following the rain-affected draw with the England Lions at Grace Road last week in their final warm-up fixture.

Peter Fulton only scored seven in the tourists' one and only innings, but his two centuries against England in Auckland mean he seems likely to retain his opening berth ahead of the fit-again Martin Guptill.

Doug Bracewell's return to fitness also leaves skipper Brendon McCullum with a dilemma over who to pick in his bowling attack; Neil Wagner will definitely play, meaning New Zealand may opt to leave out spinner Bruce Martin and name four seamers, leaving them to rely on batsman Kane Williamson's offies.

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