It’s fair to say New Zealand cricket is going through a rebuilding process at the moment.
Gone are the days of Shane Bond, Scott Styris and Chris Cairns.
The Kiwis are instead left to call on the talent of players such as Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum.
In Test cricket, New Zealand are definitely short of talent. In a recent tour of South Africa, they were destroyed by the world’s number one side.
However, in the one-day formats of the game the New Zealanders are more adept.
They rolled the South Africans over in a three-match series and could have whitewashed them had the hosts not rescued a one-wicket win with the final ball of the match.
The visit of England starts with the tourists facing a warm-up against a New Zealand XI almost immediately after Superbowl 47 ends, and provides the Kiwis with a chance to build upon that notable success and start to resurrect their Test performances against one of the best sides currently around.
England welcome back Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Stuart Broad for the three-match ODI series which follows a trio of T20 Internationals.
Chris Woakes comes in at the expense of the injured Tim Bresnan and deservedly dropped Jade Dernbach, while young Middlesex all-rounder James Harris also makes the ODI squad.
The conditions in New Zealand have traditionally favoured England’s bowlers, and the superb James Anderson will once again get the chance to torment another Test side with his varied armoury of swing.
England should easily beat the Kiwis over the three Tests, in much the same manner as they swept the West Indies aside last season.
The shorter formats of the game should provide a more competitive show, especially in the T20 arena where New Zealand will be at their strongest – Taylor and McCullum can destroy any attack given their explosive batting styles.
The tour promises to be an intriguing examination of England’s recent one-day shakiness – particularly with bat in hand – but if they play to their capabilities, and are wary of an evolutionary Kiwi side, they should enjoy a fruitful trip Down Under.