New Zealand v England, 1st Test preview; Hosts face bowling dilemma; England keep faith in Nick Compton
By Joe Drabble - Twitter: @SkySportsDrabs. Last Updated: March 5, 2013 9:24pm
England begin their double-Ashes year with a first-ever Test meeting with New Zealand at Dunedin's University Oval venue on Tuesday, starting 9pm (GMT).
The Black Caps have never lost a Test at the South Island venue, drawing to world No 1 ranked South Africa in their last outing 12 months ago.
Both sides have experienced setbacks in the lead-up to the opening Test with England slumping to a warm-up defeat in Queenstown and Kiwi fast bowler Doug Bracewell causing unwanted publicity for his team with a suspicious foot injury sustained at a house party.
Bracewell's absence means New Zealand must now choose between fellow seamer Ian Butler, who has not represented the Black Caps in Tests since 2004, or uncapped slow left-armer Bruce Martin.
Much of the home batting responsibilities will once again rest on the shoulders of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, both of whom enjoyed success against England's bowlers in the preceding one-day series defeat.
England's starting XI has all-but been revealed following the public backing given to opener Nick Compton from coach and captain Andy Flower and Alastair Cook in the lead-up to the match.
Somerset right-hander Compton is expected to open the batting alongside captain Cook, who is yet to score a Test century against the Black Caps in 10 previous attempts.
Batting at No 3, Jonathan Trott will experience Test cricket in New Zealand for the first time, while Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell return having made centuries at the end of the last tour five years ago.
Joe Root's stock continues to rise following a fine one-day campaign in the lead-up to the Test series and he will bat at No 6 ahead of Matt Prior, who will play in a 47th successive England Test and his first against New Zealand.
In conditions set to help swing bowlers, Stuart Broad has overcome a heel injury in time to join Steven Finn and James Anderson in attack, while Graeme Swann will once again provide the slow bowling option.
New Zealand: 1 Peter Fulton, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Dean Brownlie, 6 Brendon McCullum (capt), 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Tim Southee, 9 Ian Butler, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult.
England: 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Nick Compton, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Joe Root, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn.
What they said...
England captain Alastair Cook
"We were a little bit sloppy in that warm-up game, but actually some of the stuff that came out of it was really positive as well. Yes, we were disappointed to lose that game. But actually it doesn't really matter - the important stuff starts tomorrow."
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum
"We know this is a huge series - we are taking on one of giants of the Test game. We were competitive throughout the T20 and ODI series, but Test cricket is where we and the public want to see improvement."