Key battles

We pick out some of the match-ups to keep an eye on during England's Test series against New Zealand

Last Updated: 09/05/13 2:57pm

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Alastair Cook: England captain has reputation for conservative tactics

Alastair Cook: England captain has reputation for conservative tactics

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England played out three successive draws in New Zealand earlier this year, confounding expectations that the tourists would walk away handsome winners.

The Black Caps are in England for two Tests to start the summer. We assesses where the series could be won and lost.

Alastair Cook v Brendon McCullum

The rival captains represent a clash of styles in every sense.

As batsmen, Cook favours ruthless accumulation and cashes in on a percentage game, while McCullum is a swashbuckling presence in the middle order.

Their leadership styles are equally different, Cook proving a low-key and tactically conservative skipper in his early Tests, while McCullum leads by force of personality and looks to be more aggressive.

Ian Bell v Ross Taylor

Both of these middle-order batsmen have significant credit in the bank over the course of their careers but are in need of a lift in form.

Taylor was hurt by his removal as captain by coach Mike Hesson and, after a self-imposed absence, managed a top score of 41 not out in the home series against England. His side will need better than that to escape defeat here.

Bell, meanwhile, followed a prolific 2011 with a dip in performance in 2012, scoring only one century in his last innings of the year. England expect more this time than the solitary half-century he mustered in five knocks in New Zealand.

James Anderson v Trent Boult

As England's top international wicket-taker across all formats, Anderson's status is a cricketer of consequence is already assured. But he approaches this series just two scalps shy of 300 Test wickets, a significant number by anyone's reckoning.

He will be looking to get them early at Lord's and make hay against a potentially fragile New Zealand order, who stood up better than expected in their home conditions.

Boult, surprisingly perhaps, outperformed Anderson in that three-Test rubber - taking 11 wickets at 29.18 to his counterpart's 10 wickets at 37.

New Zealand will need their 23-year-old prospect to deliver more of the same to remain competitive and the return of Doug Bracewell should keep him on his toes.

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