by Luke Irelan-Hill
England v New Zealand, final Test of two-match series – Headingley: May 24-28, 11am start.
Batsmen Ian Bell and spin bowler Graeme Swann have both been included in England’s unchanged 12-man squad for the second and final Test against New Zealand at Headingley after recovereing from illness.
The Warwickshire batsman spend substantial time off the field during the 170-run win over the Kiwis at Lord’s in the first Test because of effects from a flu. Swann, who also felt ill during the Test, is also available to captain Alastair Cook.
Skipper Cook also has a selection decision to make as Yorkshire seamer Tim Bresnan will be pushing for a start on his home ground, having been left out of the starting line-up at Lord’s, when the second Test gets underway on Friday. Bresnan will be competing for a place with Middlesex paceman Steven Finn for a place in the bowling attack. Finn, despite taking four wickets in the first innings at Lord’s, was bowling too short at times and was back practising just minutes after England had complete victory.
Kevin Pieterson is still missing with a knee injury sustained in March during England’s tour to New Zealand, but is expected to be available for selection by the middle of June, just in time for the Ashes series against Australia.
Yorkshire duo Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root are both hopeful of playing their first Test on their home ground and will be trying to ensure that they continue to fill the void left by the absence of England’s most attacking batsman.
England have not won a Headingley Test since beating West Indies in May, 2007. Since then they have lost and drawn against South Africa, and were beaten in Leeds by the Australians in 2009.
New Zealand, who matched England for the majority of the first Test until their batting collapse, will be without wicketkeeper BJ Watling who has failed to recover from a knee injury sustained in the first Test.
Captain Brendan McCullum will take over behind the stumps with Martin Guptill coming into the side to bat at number 6.
Spinner Bruce Martin has also been ruled out for the tourists, so Daniel Vettori will be playing his first Test in 10 months if he passes a fitness test.
Vettori, 34, won the last of his 112 caps in the first Test against the West Indies last July and has been out with an Achilles injury. With 360 victims, the former captain is New Zealand’s second highest Test wicket-taker and the most successful left-arm spinner in history.
Play gets underway at 11am tomorrow.
Conditions at Headingley are usually more favourable to run-scoring if the sun is shining, but can be equally unpredictable and favour seam and swing with Broad, James Anderson, and New Zealand’s Tim Southee, fresh from his 10-wicket haul at Lord’s, ready to exploit any cloud cover.
Day 1 (Friday) – Could be a washout as rain is forecast for majority of the day.
Day 2 and 3 (Saturday and Sunday) – Cloudy with sunny intervals; should allow for full days play.
Day 4 and 5 (Monday and Tuesday) Overcast. Should be no interruptions.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (SA) and Steve Davis (Aus); third umpire: Aleem Dar (Pak); match referee: David Book (Aus).