The last time New Zealand played a three-test series in England was in 2008. That was the time when Daniel Flynn wore the wrong helmet, and a guaranteed test win was thrown away (losing 7/29 in the process). It was a perfect summary of how the team fared in that era.
It got worse in the four years that followed before the team gradually turned things around under Hesson.
Since then there have been two 2-test tours to England. The 2013 tour was a disaster; ending up with New Zealand being bowled out for 68 at Lords.
In some ways the 2015 tour, just after the Cricket World Cup, was even more frustrating.
That first test. England was 30/4 yet got away to 389. That’s OK; New Zealand replied with 523 with Williamson scoring a century, and Extras with an outstanding contribution of 67.
In the end New Zealand needed 345 to win and Trent Boult was caught on the third man boundary trying an inexplicable shot with 30 minutes remaining.
On Wednesday night it is the start of the first test series then, after six years. Sure, there is a more important and glamorous test at the end of the month, but this is still a test series in England.
Since that 2015 series, New Zealand actually has a pretty good record against England at home. There was that time bowling them out for 58 in 2018, followed by the gutsiest rearguard action ever seen in test cricket in new Zealand in April.
18 months later they returned and it was another 1-0 win to the hosts, with a debut test at Bay Oval, a 200 for BJ Watling and Mitch Santner turning it.
Missing Trent Boult will be an issue, but it is interesting to look at the stats from New Zealand bowlers in tests from the start of the England tour here in late 2019.
This has coincided with the Southee V2.0 resurgence, Wagner being Wagner and the arrival of Kyle Jamieson.
Boult will not be available for the Lords test. Given recent selectorial thinking that slot will go to Henry rather than Patel.
The elevation of Conway to opening, out of position on debut, is another point of interest. Normally a debutant being played out of position is from the copybook of the bleak years of NZ cricket, but you think Conway will be as up to it as anyone in facing Anderson & co.
Should New Zealand win this series then England would go second on the list of countries where New Zealand has won the most away series; behind Zimbabwe with 4.
But, in the meantime enjoy this series; the away series that New Zealand has played more than any other country. And the venues are quite special too, and this will be the first time the players have been back to Lords since….