Toss: New Zealand chose to bat vs England

Kane Williamson called correctly and opted to bat on the first Test surface of the English summer, with New Zealand boosted by the inclusion of Trent Boult after his late dash from the IPL. They also selected the spinner, Ajaz Patel, ahead of Neil Wagner and Matt Henry.
England had named their starting XI in advance for the first Test of the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum era. Stokes admitted he too would have chosen to bat, although there was a hint of cloud cover half an hour from the start of what is expected to be a warm day in north London.
With England asked to bowl, the morning session will see James Anderson and Stuart Broad back in tandem for the first time since the winter’s Ashes. Matthew Potts will also being action, having been preferred for a debut as the third seamer ahead of Craig Overton. Potts was handed his cap before the toss by fellow Durham fast bowler Steve Harmison.

Ollie Pope will bat at No. 3 for the first time in red-ball cricket, while Jonny Bairstow moves to No. 5, meaning no space for the spare batter in the squad, Harry Brook. “It’s been a really good couple of days leading up to the Test,” Stokes said, “everyone’s really excited to get going.”

England will also wear black armbands in tribute to Graham Thorpe, the former England batter and coach who was hospitalised last month.

New Zealand’s selection conundrums largely came down to whether Boult would be fit to play alongside his long-time new-ball partner Tim Southee, having only arrived in the UK on Monday. Patel’s selection owed to the expectation of a drier, more batter-friendly surface.

With Henry Nicholls ruled out in advance as he continues to recover from a calf strain, New Zealand have shuffled their batting order. Devon Conway bats at No. 4 – having scored a double-hundred as an opener on debut at Lord’s this time last year – while Daryl Mitchell slots in at No. 5. Williamson plays his first Test since November after struggling with an elbow problem. “It’s been a little while, so it’s great to be back in the side,” he said.

England: 1 Alex Lees, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Matthew Potts, 9 Jack Leach, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

New Zealand: 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Tom Blundell (wk), 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ajaz Patel, 11 Trent Boult