Thursday, 16 May 2013

England v New Zealand: Alastair Cook says hosts must be at best

Captain Alastair Cook says his England side need to be at their best to beat New Zealand after drawing their three-Test series 0-0 earlier this year.England are ranked the second best Test team - six places higher than the Kiwis - and were expected to win the series.New Zealand's tour of EnglandNew Zealand also play in the ICC Champions Trophy from 6-23 June"I don't think there was complacency around, but we didn't play as well as we could have done, that's the bottom line," said Cook, 28.The two teams meet in the first of a two-Test series at Lord's on Thursday.England will again start the series as heavy favourites despite only tying the previous series in New Zealand by drawing the final Test in March when the last-wicket pair held on.But Cook says his side will need to improve to beat the tourists.The opening batsmen said: "We all know cricket is not played on paper or on rankings. It's out there in the middle, 11 v 11."It doesn't matter what's gone on before or after. It's those five days."I think every Test series you play for England is a hugely important series, it doesn't matter what has gone before."We are fully focused on these two weeks of Test cricket versus New Zealand. We have to be at our best to win."Spinner Graeme Swann and seamer Tim Bresnan are back in the squad after they both recovered from elbow operations during the winter.
Series analysisImage of Alec Stewart Alec Stewart Ex-England captain & Test Match Special summariser"England certainly have a few points to prove and will want to put in a performance that fully justifies their position at number two in the Test rankings, six places above the Kiwis.""It's great to have Graeme fully fit after his elbow surgery, you want your best players available," added Cook."I think you miss every experienced player who doesn't play. You can't buy experience."It's very crucial you have that. You always miss players of that kind of calibre when they're not around."It's obviously great to have Bressie back. His elbow surgery has gone well."With the amount of cricket we have coming up in the next 12 months we're going to need more than 11 players and it's great he's back."England's only likely selection issue is whether Bresnan is chosen in place of fellow paceman Steven Finn.The visitors must decide whether to field an all-seam attack, with right-arm seamer Doug Bracewell and left-arm spinner Bruce Martin competing for the final bowling place.Cannot play media. You do not have the correct version of the flash player. Download the correctNew Zealand captain Brendon McCullum expects England to raise their game at home but said his players were once again looking to "punch above their weight"."They will be more aware of us. They're playing in their backyard as well, so we know we're going to have to improve on the performance at home," he said."They will probably swing the ball a bit more than in New Zealand, where they also struggled a touch with the Kookaburra (ball)."They will be a far more dangerous proposition. Their batters are very clinical at home, from what we've seen."We believe we have some guys favoured by these conditions, but we'll have to be on our game. It's pretty mouth-watering."England (from): Alastair Cook (capt), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow,Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, James Anderson.New Zealand (from): Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, Brendon McCullum (capt), BJ Watling (wk), Tim Southee, Bruce Martin, Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Steve Davis (Australia)third umpire: Marais Erasmus (SA)Match referee: David Boon (Australia)

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