New Zealand v England: Unchanged tourists chase seventh straight win

Olly Stone, James Anderson and Stuart Broad
James Anderson (centre) and Stuart Broad (right) will play together on the ground where they played their first Test as a pair, 15 years ago

England have named an unchanged team as they aim for a seventh successive win in the second Test against New Zealand.

The tourists had monitored the fitness of pace bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson following the 267-run win in the first Test.

“It’s been a chilled build-up, a time for lads to get any stiffness out of the body,” said captain Ben Stokes.

“We had to hear from the bowlers who played in the last game to see how they were and they are absolutely fine.”

Though England’s first-Test win at Mount Maunganui finished with a day to spare on Sunday, there were still doubts over the recovery of the pace trio, in particular Anderson and Robinson.

All three men bowled in Wellington on Wednesday, but did not take part in optional training on Thursday as wet weather forced England to practise indoors.

Stokes said he had sent text messages to the bowlers to check on their fitness before the Friday start (22:00 GMT Thursday) and that all three had been encouraged by the green colour of the Basin Reserve pitch.

“I’m not going to lie, the bowlers were licking their lips,” all-rounder Stokes told BBC Sport. “They might have been stiff yesterday, but after they looked at the pitch felt a little bit looser.

“It looks like the lines for the wicket have been painted on the outfield, but I think that’s generally how the pitches do look here at the Basin.

“You can’t read too much into it because the ball can nip around but it can also be incredibly flat. The pace of the wicket can be a huge advantage to the batters.”

Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, takes his place in the side after returning to the top of the world bowling rankings at the age of 40.

“I just can’t see him stopping,” said Stokes. “He’s just relentless with everything that he does. We’re very lucky to have him.

“He’s rightfully back at the top. I know sometimes those rankings don’t mean much to people, but in our opinion he has been one of he best, if not the best, for longer what these rankings say.”

Anderson and Broad, 36, will play in their 134th Test together on the same ground where they were first united as a partnership 15 years ago, famously replacing Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard.

“You might say 15 years is a long time ago, but when you’re world class you expect people to play for 15 years,” said Stokes.

“Those two in particular are an unbelievable example for people to aspire to be. Not only kids who watch the game, but also people who are in this team now, aspiring to go on to achieve what those two have done.”

England are chasing an 11th win in 12 Tests. Their current streak of six successive wins has not been matched by an England team since 2010. If they make it to seven in a row, it will be their first such run for 19 years.

New Zealand, meanwhile, need to win this final Test to avoid suffering a home series defeat for the first time since 2007.

They will have pace bowler Matt Henry available after he missed the first Test to be at the birth of his child.

“We’ve played some good cricket in our conditions and also in other parts of the world for a long time,” said New Zealand captain Tim Southee.

“We’ve had a great couple of days to train, refresh and look forward to this match. I know the pitch looks green but it’s usually a pretty good surface.”

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