England’s red-ball captain Ben Stokes has confirmed that Stuart Broad will feature in the opening Test against New Zealand, starting on Thursday (February 16) in Mount Maunganui, after missing the entire three-match series in Pakistan due to the birth of his first child.
"The way in which we've gone about our selections and stuff like that, especially in England and in similarish conditions here, the team we pick - especially with the ball - has the bases all covered, especially in these type of conditions," said Stokes.
The first Test of the two-match series will be a day-night affair and England have decided to go with the tried-and-tested pace trio of James Anderson, Broad and Ollie Robinson, with Jack Leach being the sole spinner in the playing XI.
Talking about his own bowling, Stokes said: "We've had really good preparation and build-up for this game and, even with the weather, we've still been able to train in the tent. Everything is good. Bowling-wise, it's picking the right moment to bowl.
“I've had the last two days off bowling-wise, then will have a trundle tomorrow (Wednesday). It's just making sure I get in everything I need to before we start. The bowling group have been great together. They have been discussing what they feel is working.
“People like Jimmy and Broady, who have played quite a few of these pink-ball matches, are still coming to terms with it. Some balls swing, some balls don't, then they will try to bowl the same ball and it will react differently.
“They have bowled really well together and discussed how they feel is the best way to bowl with the pink ball. In terms of myself, it will be similar to Pakistan, picking the moment when it will be best to get my overs in."
Having won nine of their last 10 Tests under Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, England have been in phenomenal form in this format. This whole “Bazball” thing started against New Zealand in June 2022 where Stokes and his men whitewashed Kane Williamson and Co. in a three-match series at home.
"That whole series, we were behind the game a lot but we managed to turn each game around completely on its head by the way we went out and did it. We know that we can be dominant but we also know that when we are behind in a game we can turn it around quickly,” said Stokes.
The ace all-rounder will lead England for the first time in the country of his birth and wants to leave a mark on the future generation. “I’m at a stage now where I would much prefer to leave a mark on other people’s careers than look to make mine more established.
“I’ve played a lot of cricket and done some great things with some great teams over the years. Being captain, I’ve got a real desire to make the best out of the team I’ve got here and players who will come in in the future.
“That’s one of my goals as England captain: to hopefully let some of these guys in the dressing room here just have an amazing career. If I can influence that in any way shape or form, then I’ll be happy.”
Talking about England’s batting approach, the 31-year-old said: “The batting group have got a huge understanding of what they can do now because we’ve let them be free. It’s almost like they get themselves in first and second gear and then all of a sudden they’ll go up to fifth because they see that as an opportunity to pounce and really put teams back under pressure.
“Things are going pretty smoothly at the moment, but if it doesn’t go well we won’t shy away from it. We showed that against South Africa when we got beat (in the first Test). When you fail, it’s an opportunity to bounce back and show you’re not worried or scared to go out there and try the same thing.”
England's playing XI - Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.