Stokes return boosts England’s hopes

Ben Stokes

England have just two Test matches in New Zealand in which to show their 4-0 Ashes thrashing at the hands of Australia is a thing of the past.

A mere four losses in 47 previous Tests in New Zealand suggest that the tourists should be able to come out on top, but bear in mind that two of those defeats have come in the last seven matches played between the two sides down under.

That suggests that the hosts at 19/10 to win the first Test, a day/nighter in Auckland could be a decent option, while 47/20 for the draw also has some merit should the weather intervene.

England look a little skinny at 5/4 for the win, but the return of New Zealand-born Ben Stokes will undoubtedly be a huge boost and the explosive all-rounder appears a decent option at 35/4 to be named as man of the match.

Former skipper Alastair Cook, at 39/4, is something of a leap of faith, with the opening batsman having averaged less in New Zealand than he has when touring every other country he has played in apart from South Africa.

For the hosts, the seam bowling attack of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner are sure to be a major danger to England.

The trio have taken 316 wickets when playing together in 24 previous Test matches, with left-armer Boult claiming seven wickets when England rescued a drawn test in their last outing in New Zealand, also in Auckland.

Boult is 13/1 to be man of the match this time around and may enjoy the conditions on offer under the lights with the pink ball.

Southee should also be able to extract some swing and offers a little more value at 17/1, while if you want to play it a little safer Black Caps skipper and key batsman Kane Williamson is 31/4.

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