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England v New Zealand - Cricket: Third Test preview

A stunning England win in the second Test against New Zealand last week sealed the series and an expectant Headingley is the venue for the third and final Test, which starts on Thursday.

The hosts won an epic second Test, reaching what looked like being a testing second-innings target of 299 in exactly 50 overs as they played the final day in Nottingham like it was a one-dayer.

It had the crowd, who had been let in for free, in raptures and ensured the Brendon McCullum era started with a much-needed series success.

What: England v New Zealand, third Test match

Where: Headingley, Leeds

When: 11:00, Thursday 23rd June 2022

How to watch: Sky Sports Cricket/Main Event

Odds: England 6/5, New Zealand 3/1, Draw 15/8

Hosts have series in the bag

England now have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-game series and, after not winning a Test in nine previous attempts, suddenly have momentum after winning two on the bounce in quick succession.

Despite it being a case already of 'job done', there is nothing to suggest coach McCullum will be satisfied yet. Indeed, he and captain Ben Stokes have made it clear this is just the start for the new England and they will be looking for more of the same in Leeds.

Fans will flock in their thousands despite the lack of overall jeopardy, hoping to see more exciting, attacking cricket.

McCullum has wasted little time in getting his positive message across. The ambitious, straight-talking Kiwi has re-energised the Test side, who had slipped alarmingly over the past 18 months.

Suddenly, after an injection of positive-thinking and a clear-cut strategy, England look ready to rise again and it's expected they will now feed off the optimism and energy generated by two Test wins and make it 3-0 overall at Headingley.

England expected to impress again

England are a very tempting 6/5 to win the third Test, the tourists are 3/1 and a draw is on offer at 15/8 and those odds reflect the fact England are clearly on the up but, on the other hand, the tourists are also struggling.

With illness and injury in their camp still taking its toll, it's tempting to say the Black Caps will now just be pleased to see the back of this trip. It appears that everything that could have gone wrong for them has so far - losing key batter and skipper Kane Williamson on the eve of the second Test neatly encapsulating their issues.

NZ have been poor since winning the inaugural Test Championship with victory over India a year ago, picking up just two victories from their last eight Tests - a run that includes drawn series at home to both South Africa and Bangladesh earlier this year.

Some observers have argued they have yet to replace the recently-retired Ross Taylor and BJ Watling, while opener Tom Latham's ongoing struggles with the bat mean there are growing calls for him to be taken out of the firing line.

Black Caps have been competitive

However, it's also worth pointing out that the Black Caps have been very competitive in the two Tests played, despite losing both.

They would have understandably looked at the target they set England at Trent Bridge as one which could quite easily have gone in their favour.

A draw, even, would have been looked upon by many in the visitors' camp as the worst-case scenario at around lunchtime on Monday.

But that was before Jonnny Bairstow emerged for the hosts and, after tea, sensationally set about delivering one of the most audaciously brilliant quick-fire Test centuries ever. So good was it that it was nearly a record-breaker.

Plenty of England's players will be heading to Headingley on a high, but one man who may well still be up in the clouds is local lad Bairstow. And, all things considered, on his home pitch, of all places, he looks good value at 11/1 to be named Player of the Match again.

Team effort key at Trent Bridge

It wasn't just Bairstow who shone for McCullum's side, though. Stokes weighed in with a very vital 75 in the second innings, while both former skipper Joe Root and Ollie Pope struck centuries in the first innings.

Root is available at 5/1 to be Player of The Match with Stokes, who usually likes to enjoy himself at this venue, is 8/1.

Going back to the tourists, and even though the overall result will be a disappointment, they have posted remarkably similar scores to England in all four Test innings they've played this summer.

In terms of simple run stats, there's been very little to choose between the now-buoyant hosts and the injury-and-illness-hit visitors.

However, the fact their efforts have all been in vain will have sapped confidence levels and we may now see them being outplayed with the series already lost.

Related Cricket News

Five things we learned from the second Test

Root confirms England greatness

Team news: Anderson could get a rest

There are reports veteran bowler Jimmy Anderson will be rested for the third Test, with Stuart Broad's workload also apparently being monitored with a view to the big summer series against India coming up.

Jamie Overton is being tipped to make his Test debut, while there could be a chance given to Yorkshire star Harry Brook if the batting line-up is tinkered with.

The 22-year-old will be desperate to make his England Test debut at home and is in superb form, recently recording his ninth score of over 50 at County level this term - while he's played 10 red-ball innings in 2022, making three tons and remarkably has a lowest score of 41.

Team news: Wagner surely an option

For the Kiwis, at least they are likely to have skipper Williamson available again, while left-arm quick Neil Wagner must be in contention for a recall after being curiously left out for the first two Tests.

Critics will be keen to point out that this is still an England side who have plenty of flaws and, the two most recent Test wins aside, they have really struggled to find their rhythm for much of the last 18 months.

The Ashes debacle over the winter may have faded in the memory for many, but some issues do remain and, despite the superb start McCullum has made, there are bound to be bumps in the road as he continues to plot a path to progress.

However, doubts are for another day and, with the tourists' problems piling up, we should see a confident England attempt to go out and dominate in Leeds.

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