England name an unchanged team for second Test with New Zealand after Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson were all passed fit… with captain Ben Stokes admitted they were ‘licking their lips’ at sight of green Wellington pitch
Ben Stokes has named an unchanged team for England’s last Test assignment of the winter, saying his bowlers were ‘licking their lips’ at the sight of a green Basin Reserve pitch.
Sportsmail revealed England were considering making changes to a bowling line-up that had reported aches and pains after the crushing first Test victory in Mount Maunganui, with Ollie Robinson looking particularly stiff in training on Wednesday.
But Stokes said that a quick check with Robinson, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad had confirmed they were good to go and all three will face New Zealand here in a second and final Test that begins at 10pm on Thursday UK time.
‘It wasn’t necessarily touch and go with the bowlers,’ said Stokes as rain and wind lashed down on the Basin Reserve on Thursday.
‘It’s just been a chilled build-up period compared to the first game.
Bowlers Stuart Broad (left) and Jimmy Anderson (right) will play in an unchanged England team for the second and final Test match with New Zealand
Captain Ben Stokes (right) also confirmed Ollie Robinson (left) was first to play in Wellington
‘It’s a time for lads to get any stiffness out of their body. We’ve had to hear from the bowlers who played in the last game to see how they were and they’re absolutely fine.’
The pitch at this famous old ground looked as green as the outfield on Wednesday and was kept under cover today.
More rain is forecast for Wellington on the first two days of the Test, which should make conditions perfect for seam bowling in the early stages.
‘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,’ said the England captain.
‘You can’t read too much into it because the ball can nip around but it can also be incredibly flat here. The pace of the wicket can be a huge advantage to the batters.
‘I’m not going to lie, the bowlers were licking their lips when they saw it. They might have been stiff yesterday but after they looked at the pitch they felt a little bit looser. They are all looking forward to bowling this week.’
England’s team means Anderson and Broad will play together on the ground where they were first united as a partnership 15 years ago when Michael Vaughan and Peter Moores decided to move on from Ashes heroes Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard.
Jimmy Anderson helped England to victory in Mount Maunganui with four wickets
Anderson, Broad and Jack Leach pictured in the nets ahead of the second Test on Friday
The Basin Reserve pitch was covered ahead of the match with rain forecast in the coming days
And, with England’s next overseas Test assignment not coming until they meet India in a five-match series that starts next January, it could conceivably be the last time the pair who now boast 1,009 Test wickets in tandem play together overseas for England.
‘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 are an unbelievable example for people to aspire to. Not only kids who watch the game but also players who are in this team now, aspiring to go on to achieve what those two have done. Having Jimmy and Broady in the team is a great luxury to have.’
Anderson will, remarkably, go into the Test back on top of the world rankings at 40. ‘I just can’t see him stopping,’ added Stokes. ‘Every time he turns out there he’s one of the main guys you throw the ball to when you need a wicket. He’s just relentless.
‘I know those rankings don’t mean much to people but in our opinion he has been one of the best if not the best for longer than the rankings say anyway.’
England’s second Test team
Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wkt), Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson.
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