There is just a week to go until day one of the first England v New Zealand Test and with it, the start of the home international summer.

Lord’s will play host to the curtain-raiser, a fitting place for the Ben Stokes/Brendon McCullum era to get underway as the hosts look to bounce back from a difficult winter.

There is plenty to be excited about as we close in the first England v New Zealand Test so with a week to go, we’ve highlighted everything we know so far…

The two squads 

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The first Test squad of the Stokes/McCullum era was named last week, with 13 players selected and two potential debutants – Yorkshire batter Harry Brook (758 County Championship runs at an average of over 150+ in 2022) and Durham seamer Matt Potts (the County Championship’s leading wicket-taker with 35) – included.

The full squad is as follows: Ben Stokes (Durham) (c), Jimmy Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Jack Leach (Somerset), Alex Lees (Durham), Craig Overton (Somerset), Matthew Potts (Durham), Ollie Pope (Surrey), and Joe Root (Yorkshire)

We’ve known New Zealand’s for a little while longer and it’s a deeper one given they’re the touring side.

It is as follows: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Cameron Fletcher, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson,  Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young

Jimmy and Broady are back

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Both Stokesy and new director of England men’s cricket Rob Key had made it clear that legendary fast bowling duo Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad would return for the New Zealand series so it was no surprise to see the pair named in the 13-strong squad last week.

Given the injuries to many of our other seam bowling options, you’d expect that Jimmy and Broady will both play at Lord’s – where they have more than 200 combined wickets – and we cannot wait to see them back in their whites.

Who bats where in the middle order 

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Key has already confirmed England’s middle order lineup for the first Test, which will see Ollie Pope returning to the side at number three, Joe Root back at his number four, Jonny Bairstow at five, and Ben Stokes at six.

Ben Foakes is set to take the gloves and bat at seven, with the four bowlers making up numbers eight, nine, 10, and 11.

It’s a huge opportunity for Pope, who has never batted at three in First Class cricket, and Key has backed him to succeed.

“I think Pope has a technique and temperament,” said the managing director of England men’s cricket. “but it’s down to us really to get the best out of him. We’ll give him the backing to go and do it, so we can finally see the potential that we all think he has.”

Harry Brook will have to wait for his chance 

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That means unless there is a shock selection, Zak Crawley and Alex Lees will retain their roles as England’s opening pair and Brook will have to wait a little while longer for his chance.

The 23-year-old has already made his Three Lions debut in T20 cricket, doing so during the tour of West Indies, but he’ll be hoping that he gets his chance to make his Test bow at some point in June.

But Matt Potts could get his cap 

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There could be a cap handed out on the Lord’s outfield on Thursday morning, however, as Potts could benefit from England’s significant fast bowling injury list.

Key has suggested they’re “excited by what Matt Potts offers” and claimed he offers them “a point of difference”.

He explained: “There’s a lot of people who can run in and get the ball down there at various different paces. But it’s the character really, and I’m excited by someone of that age. When these injuries were happening, and you start seeing someone like that emerge and you see the way he runs in, the way that it looks like if you’re facing him, you’re in a proper contest. They are the players I get really excited about.

“Out of the injury problems that we’ve got at the moment, some good will come out of that, and it may be him.”

Unless England go with four seamers (plus Stokes), Potts will likely be up against Craig Overton for the final place in the XI.

Jack Leach will be England’s primary spinner – if they pick one

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Matt Parkinson has been, rightfully, getting in the headlines for his fantastic performances in the County Championship with Lancashire this season but England have stuck with Jack Leach.

Leach has enjoyed a strong start to the domestic campaign himself and will be England’s primary spinner at Lord’s unless they opt to go with a four-seam attack.

They do, of course, have the option of Joe Root’s golden arm and with Stokesy now the skipper, it’s not crazy to suggest he could shoulder more bowling responsibility moving forward.

Even so, you’d expect Leach to get the nod at Lord’s.

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