England are looking to arrest their woeful Test away record against New Zealand
England cricketers clock up thousands upon thousands of miles of travel every year.
Long-haul flights, connections, buses; you name it – travelling for the England Cricket Team is second nature.
Given most players take up to four or five bats on a long tour plus all the other equipment needed, international cricketers have luggage sizes and baggage allowances down to a tee.
Now, if only England travelled as well on the field as they do off it.
Heading into the first Test of the two-match affair against the Kiwis at Auckland on Thursday, England have lost eight out of their past 10 Tests away from home – drawing the other two.
Miserable 4-0 thumpings at the hands of Australia in the recent Ashes series and India early last year have shown the Three Lions, of late, to have the worst possible jet lag and travel sickness.
England’s record at home is largely dominatable, particularly since 2012. In this period, they boast a 23-11 win-loss ratio – including includes two Ashes triumphs.
Indeed, England’s last defeat at home came, rather unluckily, to Sri Lanka in a short-lived two-match affair which concluded at Headingley in the early part of the 2014 summer.
However, away from their green and pleasant land, it’s a different story. In the same intervening period, England have lost 23 times and won just seven Tests.
Why the struggle? The percentage of teams winning away Tests has been between 20 and 30 per cent since the 1920s – but it’s apparent that this is starting to get lower and lower.
Tailor-made pitches for the hosts and the switch up of balls from the Duke to Kookaburra in some countries have made a difference. But, of course, you take advantage of being in your backyard.
For England, specifically, it could be said that the English – from professional sportspeople to your average Joe – just aren’t as comfortable outside the British Isles.
Changes in the form of new foods, cultures or languages often don’t fit for long periods, generally speaking. Football is a case in point – very rarely have we seen English players thrive in a new country for a decent chunk of time.
Luckily for England, the challenge of New Zealand has elements of a home-from-home scenario. The weather is hit and mix, there’s a high chance of rain and the pitches often aid some conventional swing and seam bowling.
Conditions on the South Island should be of the liking to the likes of James Anderson and then an Alastair Cook in the batting stakes, with the ball coming on. The same can be said of the Hagley Oval, Christchurch, the venue for the second and final Test.
If the tourists are to get that winning feeling again, then this could be a golden chance.