The independent voice of cricket

New Zealand v England

Breaking their winless streak in New Zealand presents another unique challenge for New England

Ben Stokes of England during day one of the Third Test Match between England and New Zealand at Headingley
by Katya Witney 4 minute read

England haven’t won a Test match in New Zealand since 2008.

It’s not quite the historic weight which demanded caution before they travelled to Pakistan, but it is nevertheless a significant precedent for England’s new management to overcome. Their win record in New Zealand since the 2007/08 series – which they won 2-1 – is their worst in any country. Seven Test matches, five losses and two draws.

England have a mixed record away from home overall, but they have managed to pick up at least one win against every other team they have played on the road in that time, with West Indies the only side they have failed to win a series against since then, among those England have played.


Considering the amount of rain that is set to fall, at least during the first Test match at Mount Maunganui, there may only be one realistic winner-takes-all opportunity for either side to clinch a series win. The series is the sixth consecutive two-Test encounter the sides have played following a three-match 0-0 draw in New Zealand in 2012/13 – given the general quality and competitiveness of matches between the sides, it is a shame series have not been extended.

Nevertheless, England’s difficulties in New Zealand go beyond a lack of opportunity. Since that 2008 series, England’s bowlers have conceded more runs per wicket (44.66) than in any other country. The gap between that and their average runs scored with the bat (31.88) is also greater than in any other country.

There does seem to be little point in looking at history with a side which has demonstrated over the last few months that they couldn’t care less about past failings themselves. Ripping up the rule book, scoring fast and playing with confidence was the key to their success in Pakistan and is undoubtedly the way they will continue to play. During their warm-up match against a New Zealand XI, they managed to score 465 in less than 70 overs before being bowled out.

But the audacity and freshness of that approach won’t necessarily be as confronting for New Zealand at home. Since 2008, New Zealand is second only to Pakistan as a host country in the average runs scored by batters per wicket, as well as in terms of the percentage of Test matches which have ended in draws. This suggests that while runs have come fairly easily, sides have struggled to take 20 wickets in New Zealand. While England can and most likely will be able to continue to score a lot of runs quickly, how much this will phase New Zealand and their approach to batting is questionable.

At home, New Zealand score their runs quicker than they do everywhere else apart from Zimbabwe and average more than 40 runs for every wicket they lose – again second only to Zimbabwe. The Black Caps’ general approach is to bat once, bat long, and bat big, and they have overturned some sizeable totals in their time, notably beating Bangladesh in 2017 despite conceding 595-8 in the first innings of the game, a Test record.

Looking at the side they are likely to field in the first Test, which will include Devon Conway, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson and Tom Latham, it’s not hard to see where their runs are going to come from. While England’s 3-0 series win in the summer was built on a fast-scoring foundation, they may likely find it harder to take the wickets they need this time around. They will also once again be without Jonny Bairstow’s mayhem-inducing summer form which underpinned two of those home wins.

None of this is to say England won’t go to New Zealand and win this time, weather permitting. Following the last eight months, England have more than earned the degree of optimism which now surrounds every match they play. Since winning the World Test Championship final in 2021, New Zealand have been on a definite downward slope in the Test arena. They have won just two of their 11 Test matches and were beaten by Bangladesh at home for the first time. South Africa also recorded a rare away victory over New Zealand last year and, unlike England, they were unable to force results on their most recent tour of Pakistan.

If England are to break their losing streak in New Zealand, now is their prime opportunity to do it. But, the challenge on multiple fronts of what awaits them shouldn’t be underestimated.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99