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Cricket-New Zealand expect steely England under new skipper Stokes

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By Reuters
Cricket-New Zealand expect steely England under new skipper Stokes
Cricket-New Zealand expect steely England under new skipper Stokes   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

– New Zealand expect Ben Stokes’s leadership to galvanise England but they intend to make life as difficult as they can for the new skipper in the upcoming test series, head coach Gary Stead said.

New Zealand-born Stokes replaced Joe Root as test captain last week, with England seeking a swift turnaround under the talismanic all-rounder after managing only one win in their last 17 matches.

The combative 30-year-old’s first assignment will be to turn the tables on New Zealand in the three-test series starting at Lord’s on June 2, a year after England lost 1-0 to the ‘Black Caps’ while Stokes was taking a break from cricket.

“Look, I imagine that he will bring – there will be an immediate steel to their group,” Stead told reporters on Wednesday.

“I think the abrasive way that he plays will probably rub off onto the group as well.

“What we will be trying to do is make things very, very hard for Ben Stokes as immediately as we can and if we can do that, then hopefully that might nullify the strength of the English.

“But they are still a quality team. If you look through, there are world class players throughout that team.”

New Zealand’s World Test Championship defence is on shaky ground after tying home series against South Africa and Bangladesh, with regular captain and top batsman Kane Williamson sidelined with an long-standing elbow injury.

Williamson, however, has been batting in the Indian Premier League and was included in an extended squad for the England tour on Monday.

Stead was sure the 31-year-old would be fit to captain the side in the first Lord’s test.

“He’s going really well. I’ve talked to him regularly, the last week or so,” he said.

“And he’s got no issues at all, training almost completely unrestricted now. (He’s) still just being careful around the overloading side of it.

“So that means if he has a really big day batting then just making sure he’s not doing too much the next day.

“That’ll probably be an ongoing thing for the rest of his career that we expect to keep managing.”