England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat against New Zealand in the second and final Test at Edgbaston on Thursday as James Anderson became their most-capped player of all time.
Anderson, already Test cricket’s leading paceman with 616 wickets, was making his 162nd appearance, surpassing the record he had shared with retired former England captain Alastair Cook.
England made one change, with Warwickshire fast bowler Olly Stone replacing Ollie Robinson after the Sussex paceman, who made his Test debut, was left out after being suspended following the re-emergence of racist and sexist tweets.
It meant that once again England were without a specialist spinner, with Root deciding to bat first despite overcast conditions that promised to assist his pace attack.
An injury-hit New Zealand made six changes in total, with wicketkeeper BJ Watling’s withdrawal due to a back injury announced less than half-an-hour before the toss.
New Zealand were already without captain and star batsman Kane Williamson, resting an elbow injury in the hope of being fit for the Black Caps’ appearance in next week’s inaugural World Test Championship final against India at Southampton.
And that match also appeared to be behind the decision to leave out spearhead quick Tim Southee and bring in Matt Henry.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner was ruled out with a cut finger, with his place taken by Ajaz Patel.
Tom Latham took over as captain, with Will Young, who has made two first-class hundreds for English county side Durham this season, coming into the side at number three.
Wellington’s Tom Blundell replaced Watling in a team where Neil Wagner was the only member of the bowling attack to keep his place from Lord’s.
New Zealand welcomed back Trent Boult after the left-arm seamer missed the first Test having taken family leave following the suspension of the Indian Premier League.
Meanwhile Colin de Grandhomme and Kyle Jamieson, who both played at Lord’s.
Crowds of up to 17,000 per day were expected for this match as part of the British government’s continued easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
England: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (capt), Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence, James Bracey (wkt), Mark Wood, Olly Stone, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
New Zealand: Tom Latham (capt), Devon Conway, Will Young, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell (wkt), Daryl Mitchell, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult
Umpires: Richard Illingworth (ENG), Richard Kettleborough (ENG)
TV umpire: Michael Gough (ENG)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)