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New Zealand v England: The key battles – CricViz

by CricViz Staff 4 minute read

Patrick Noone of cricket analytics specialists CricViz highlights three head-to-heads which will go a long way to deciding the result of England’s two-Test series in New Zealand.

Kane Williamson v Joe Root

  Kane Williamson Joe Root
Age 27 27
Tests 63 65
Average 50.62 53.28
Centuries 17 13
Tests as captain 15 12
Average as captain 56.04 55.35
Centuries as captain 4 2


Kane Williamson and Joe Root, the opposing captains, both boast superb records against all bowling types, with each statistically stronger facing spin rather than seam.

Left-arm pace is a relative weakness for Root – his overall average dropping from 53.28 to 46.05 against the southpaw seamers – which should offer some encouragement to Trent Boult. However, there have been signs that Root is improving in that area, being dismissed only once by Mitchell Starc in the recent Ashes.

A worry for England will be the rate that Williamson is able to score against off-spinners – his career strike-rate increasing from 50.51 to 56.40 when facing right-arm finger-spin – particularly given Moeen Ali’s struggles in Australia, where he leaked runs at an alarming rate and took just five wickets at an average of 115.

Bowling Type Average Strike-Rate
Leg-spin 96.00 66.35
Left-arm orthodox 61.87 46.96
Off-spin 51.18 56.40
Right-arm seam 46.63 49.17
Left-arm seam 40.90 49.87


Bowling Type Average Strike-Rate
Leg-spin 72.14 75.82
Off-spin 67.07 66.81
Left-arm orthodox 59.78 46.09
Right-arm seam 49.22 55.89
Left-arm seam 46.05 49.49


Trent Boult v James Anderson

Trent Boult swings it more than anyone else

No bowler has found more swing in the last five years than New Zealand’s Trent Boult. His new-ball partner Tim Southee also makes the top three in that period, illustrating the size of the task England’s top order will face in Auckland and Christchurch.

Average swing by seamers since 01/01/2013 (min 1,000 balls)
Bowler Swing (in degrees)
Trent Boult 1.42
Shaminda Eranga 1.41
Tim Southee 1.27
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1.27
Alzarri Joseph 1.22


Of course, England have a formidable swing bowler of their own but, perhaps surprisingly, James Anderson has not previously found a great deal of swing in New Zealand.

Anderson average swing in Tests since 2006
Country Swing (in degrees) Bowling Average
England 1.42 24.29
West Indies 1.26 24.92
South Africa 1.15 39.92
New Zealand 1.09 36.27
India 1.00 33.46
UAE 0.73 20.54
Sri Lanka 0.72 40.72
Australia 0.40 35.43


In the last five years, Anderson boasts an exceptional record against both left-handers and right-handers, and 68.1 per cent of his wickets in that time have been top-order batsmen.

Boult is only narrowly behind Anderson in every metric besides false shot percentage; impressive considering that these are Anderson’s peak years being examined. At 28, Boult should have plenty of years left to improve on his already excellent numbers.

Anderson and Boult comparison (since 01/01/2013)
  Anderson Boult
Average v LHB 23.10 27.32
Average v RHB 23.98 29.33
Top six dismissal % 68.1 64.4
False shot % 27.4 30.2
Boundary % 6.06 6.72


BJ Watling v Jonny Bairstow

BJ Watling returns for New Zealand

BJ Watling and Jonny Bairstow, the wicketkeepers on each side, have very similar records against seam and spin, but the latter looks to be more aggressive, playing attacking shots 8 per cent more often. It is testament to Bairstow’s quality as a batsman that, despite taking more risks, his false shot percentage is only fractionally higher than that of Watling.

With the gloves, Watling’s record is slightly superior, with his stumping success rate 75 per cent, compared to Bairstow’s 66 per cent. Watling has only dropped 9.5 per cent of the catching chances that have come his way, compared to Bairstow’s 12.5 per cent.

Bairstow and Watling comparison
Batting Bairstow Watling
Attacking shot % 29.6 21.1
Average v seam 37.6 36.5
Average v spin 41.7 42.7
False shot % 10.4 9.3
Catches (as keeper) 119 161
Stumpings 8 6
Drops 17 17
Missed stumpings 4 2


Read CricViz analysis every month in Wisden Cricket Monthly

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