Like staring out into a thick English mist it is extremely hard to see any movement, signs, or contour to give us an indication of how this first test at Lord’s will pan out.
Neither side has had a satisfactory build-up and, suddenly, we have a test match on our hands.
For the third time New Zealand has been confronted by the IPL v country dilemma. Ironically, the recent good form of its players in the shorter forms of the game has meant that the impact this year has been much greater than in previous May tours of England; particularly when compared to 2013.
It is a tough one for New Zealand Cricket. IPL contracts are clearly too big to ignore, and they do not want to get into a West Indian situation where the players take the cash and point two fingers at playing for their country altogether.
However, as has been repeatedly noted, T20 cricket in 35 degrees in Mumbai bears only a passing resemblance to test cricket in an English spring with a Duke ball. It would have been nice if the key players had made their transit a week earlier.
Having said that, the build-up in England hasn’t been that brilliant either. Two warm-up matches, one of them not even of First Class status against second tier country sides resting their best bowlers is hardly the perfect build-up.
England’s build up has been far more entertaining. They have the benefit of coming off a test series in the West Indies; albeit a drawn one against a depleted side. But since then it’s all been KP, the ECB, Strauss, Cook, accusation verses counter-innuendo and a spike in Tabloid sales.
There was never any real suggestion Pietersen was going to play in this test anyway (he seems to have a sole Ashes focus) so his absence probably will not have any impact whatsoever on the side’s planning. Still, it will simmer away as the back story in the UK media and has been quite the sideshow.
Seldom has a test been harder to predict. History says England, and too much has been made of New Zealand’s demolition job in Welling in the World Cup. One thing that is likely however is that New Zealand will be a tougher proposition next week.