Rising Black Caps star Devon Conway will make his long-awaited Test debut tonight at the home of cricket after his call-up was confirmed by captain Kane Williamson this morning.
On the eve of the first Test, Williamson said the South African-born batsman would partner Tom Latham as the openers after his impressive rookie summer in white ball cricket.
Conway's rise has been consistent since he settled in Wellington in 2017, averaging 66 runs in 22 first-class outings for his new home as well as averaging 59 runs in 14 T20 internationals for the Black Caps with a strike rate of 151 since he became eligible for selection last August.
He also averaged 75 runs in three ODIs against Bangladesh over the Kiwi summer.
“[It's] a really exciting opportunity for Devon," Williamson said. "Being involved with the team over the last year in the white ball formats [has] gone extremely well.
“He’s an experienced player as well who’s played a lot of first-class cricket and batted in all the different positions and gets his opportunity to make his debut at the home of cricket.”
Williamson narrowed the 19-man squad in England down to 12 for tonight's Test at Lord's, with all rounders Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner in the mix to play alongside pacemen Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner.
The New Zealand captain said conditions in England, including a drying Lord's pitch, could see them shift away from the familiar all-pace attack they used during the home summer.
“We’ve got a couple of allrounders, de Grandhomme and Santner, and in recent games at home we’ve opted for extra seamers so it’s just trying to find that balance after assessing the pitch. The weather has taken a pretty quick turn from cold and wet to pretty hot and dry so we’ll wait and see,” Williamson said.
Despite their World No.1 rank, the Black Caps enter tonight's match as underdogs according to the bookmakers. They favour England despite the absence of regulars Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Jonny Bairstow for injuries and rest.
Black Caps veteran Ross Taylor said he wasn't surprised, though.
“Any game at Lord’s, with the history behind the ground and the hum that goes across it, once the coin goes up the nerves will kick in a little bit more," Taylor said.
"We know what to expect - any time you play England at home it’s always going to be a tough battle.”
Tonight's match begins at 10pm NZT.
England [from]: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (captain), Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence, James Bracey, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, Olly Stone, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
New Zealand [one omittion]: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry
TAB odds: England $1.85, NZ $2.80, draw $4.80