Trent Boult set to miss England series to focus on World Test Championship final
The left-arm seamer was given special dispensation to skip this week’s first Test against England at Lord’s after returning home to New Zealand following the Indian Premier League’s postponement at the beginning of May.
However, Boult will only arrive in the UK on Friday and the priority now is to make sure he is fit and firing for their historic game against India at the Ageas Bowl, which starts on June 18 – meaning he will almost certainly be absent for the second Test against England at Edgbaston the week before.
“I don’t think you’ll see Trent in the two Test matches here,” Stead said. “He arrives on Friday, our planning and what we’re looking at doing with Trent is having him ready for the World Test Championship final.
“He’s been home, he has had a week of bowling over there which has been great after the fair amount of isolation time at the end of the IPL.
“But our view with Trent right now is it’s unlikely that he will play the Test at Edgbaston. And he’s more likely to be just available for the one-off Test.”
England will be without several of their established performers for the brace of Tests, with Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer recovering from injuries while several others have been rested following their exertions at the IPL.
Stead, though, pointed out England can still call upon James Anderson and Stuart Broad – who have more than 1,000 Test wickets between them – and asserted that many of those in the home line-up have benefited from playing county cricket for the last few weeks.
“When you’ve got an opening bowling attack that’s got over 1,000 Test wickets between them that doesn’t look like there’s anything light there,” Stead added.
“The England team still have a fair amount of experience, scattered through their whole ranks there with the bat and the ball.
“We certainly go into this series under no illusions that we’re playing against an England side that are now nearly in the middle of their summer, that have played a lot of cricket and I guess for us, probably, almost feel as though we’re slightly behind the eight-ball with that at the moment.”
The tourists have a familiar face within their ranks, with Phil Neale, who served as the operations manager of the England men’s team for 21 years until retiring last October, taking on team liaison officer duties for the Kiwis.
“I know some of the New Zealand management and I offered my services,” Neale said. “I don’t want a long-term role with a team or to travel overseas, but I have plenty of knowledge and experience and I’m happy to help.
“This job also means I’ll see the England boys. It was all a bit abrupt when I finished last year so this gives me a chance to say ‘goodbye’ properly.”