'Fierce' England challenge more of a concern to Williamson than Lord's history

The match will be New Zealand's first at Lord's since their agonising Super Over loss to England in the 2019 World Cup final, when the scores were level at the end of 50 overs.

New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson celebrates reaching his double century (200 runs) during the second day of the first Test cricket match between New Zealand and West Indies at Seddon Park in Hamilton on 4 December 2020. Picture: AFP

LONDON - New Zealand captain Kane Williamson insisted the "fierce challenge" posed by England will be uppermost in his mind rather than his team's record at Lord's when he leads the Black Caps in the first Test at the 'home of cricket' on Wednesday.

The match will be New Zealand's first at Lord's since their agonising Super Over loss to England in the 2019 World Cup final, when the scores were level at the end of 50 overs.

New Zealand will face India in the inaugural World Test Championship final in Southampton starting on June 18 after this two-match series, but their Test record at Lord's is poor with just one win - back in 1999 - from 17 attempts.

Williamson, recalling New Zealand's loss in the 2019 final on boundary countback, told reporters on Tuesday: "It was a fantastic game of cricket. It is a different side and there has been some time since that day.

"Our focus is on the cricket we want to play as a Test side and there is certainly no thought of that.

"We were both part of a fantastic game that was deciding largely by things largely outside both of the teams' control," he added in a reference to the freak extra runs England scored when a throw from the outfield deflected off Ben Stokes' bat for a boundary.

Nevertheless, star batsman Williamson added: "You look back fondly and having that match played at a ground like Lord's I suppose adds to it.

"Every time you get the opportunity to play here is a really special thing - 'the home of cricket' - and for a few guys it is their first time at Lord's and they are certainly soaking it up. It is pretty cool, despite it being a bit unique with bubble life.

"It will be great to have crowds back," said Williamson ahead of a match that will see spectators returning to international cricket in England for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

'EXPERIENCED' CONWAY

He subsequently confirmed at a news conference that South Africa-born batsman Devon Conway, who averages nearly 48 in all first-class cricket, would make his Test debut.

Conway also has a one-day international average of 75, albeit from just three matches, with a corresponding figure of 59.12 in Twenty20 internationals at a commanding strike rate of 151.11.

The 29-year-old has been preferred to Tom Blundell or Durham's Will Young as Tom Latham's opening partner, with Williamson saying: "It's a really exciting opportunity for Devon.

"He's been involved with the team over the last year in the white-ball formats and done extremely well. He's an experienced player. He's played a lot of first-class cricket and he gets his opportunity to make his debut at the 'home of cricket'."

Earlier, Williamson said of New Zealand's Test record at Lord's: "The thoughts aren't to those sorts of stats...they don't count for too much."

England have not lost a home Test series since 2014 and Williamson, who scored a Test hundred at Lord's the following year, said: "We still know the challenge is a fierce one."

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