21 May 2015

Cook says local conditions will help England

4:04 pm on 21 May 2015

The England captain Alastair Cook believes the Black Caps are the most improved side in Test cricket, though he's confident the English conditions will help level the playing field for the under fire hosts.

England have been written off by many local commentators following a string of poor performances, the sacking of coach Peter Moores, and the fallout from the decision not to recall batsman Kevin Pietersen.

England cricketer Alistair Cook.

England cricketer Alistair Cook. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand have won four of their last six test series and made the final at the recent World Cup, though they haven't won a test series in England since 1999.

The Black Caps are confident of breaking that 16-year drought, and Cook concedes the tourists will be tough to stop.

He says New Zealand has made huge strides in recents years and are probably for form team in terms of improvement.

However Cook says they have an impressive home record to hold onto and it'll be a fun series,

He concedes the reputation of English cricket has taken a "hammering" but he insists the team can overcome their on and off field issues to stop the Black Caps.

The first Test of the two-match series gets underway tonight at Lord's.

The England bowler James Anderson celebrates taking a wicket.

The England bowler James Anderson celebrates taking a wicket. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cook admits it was a big shock with Moores was sacked but they have to put that aside and concentrate on a test match against a very good side.

New cricket director Andrew Strauss sacked coach Moores earlier this month and Paul Farbrace will lead England against the Kiwis before a permanent coach is appointed.

Former Ashes-winning captain Strauss also decided that Pietersen, who was sacked 15 months ago following the 5-nil Ashes defeat in Australia, would not be recalled despite scoring a career-best 355 not out for Surrey.

Pietersen's hopes of returning to the international arena had been raised after new English Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves suggested in March that the South African-born batsman would be considered if he scored a lot of runs in county cricket.

Cook denied media reports that he had issued the ECB with an ultimatum that he would resign as captain if Pietersen was recalled.

England are coming off a drawn series in the Caribbean, while the Black Caps haven't lost a Test series since their last tour of England in 2013.

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