This may be a chilled spring hors d'oeuvres before the temperature rises (hopefully) with the Champions Trophy and the Ashes later in the summer, but England have a score to settle with the Black Caps after scrambling to a 0-0 draw in New Zealand earlier in the year.
1 Win series against the Kiwis
A failure to win this series would cost them two points in the official Test rankings table, seeing them lose further ground on the leaders South Africa and drop back alongside India in the chasing pack.
2 Get 'back to basics'
Stuart Broad used that phrase on several occasions in a press conference in the Lord's museum on Tuesday, confirming that the team have already "had lots of meetings about our focus as a team". England have been stung by the slow starts they made in New Zealand, which left them clinging on for brave but undignified draws in the first Test in Dunedin, and especially the third in Auckland. "That is a focus for this week," said Broad, "getting back to basics to make sure we do our basic skills as well as we possibly can so we are not chasing the game. If you make a good first-innings score and you bowl very tightly first innings you are rarely under pressure in the last innings so we can really make a statement in the first couple of days and that's what we need to do."
3 Assess Graeme Swann's elbow
All the signs have been positive since the off-spinner had a second operation in Minnesota in February, and Swann saying he is feeling "better than ever". He is genuinely excited to be playing his first Test against New Zealand – but whatever they say in public, England will be viewing whatever he achieves in this series with the Ashes in mind.
4 Cover for Kev
The surprisingly and worryingly slow recovery of Kevin Pietersen from a knee injury that ruled him out of the third Test in Auckland has the consolation of allowing England to explore the depth of their batting options. At Lord's that means an unexpected chance for Jonny Bairstow alongside his Yorkshire team-mate Joe Root in the middle order. Bairstow would presumably be first batting reserve for the Ashes as things currently stand, so the more experience he gains now, the better.
5 Cover all bases
Having said that, it is not impossible to imagine a set of circumstances under which Bairstow and Pietersen could both play in the first Test against Australia at Trent Bridge in July. Were Bairstow and Root to sparkle against New Zealand, and if Nick Compton struggles at the top of the order in what will be his first two Tests on home soil, England could yet be tempted to promote Root to open with Alastair Cook in the Ashes, leaving Bairstow to bat below Pietersen in the middle order. That provides an intriguing subplot to the New Zealand series.
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