England and New Zealand will lock horns again in a couple of weeks and it is a keenly awaited contest. In my time watching cricket, these two sides have often been closely matched and fought some intense battles. Here is a quick look at a pivotal series of recent vintage which sticks in the mind, providing dramatic cricket and a changing of the guard for England.
The successful England tour of New Zealand in 2007/8 was in retrospect of huge importance as it marked the end of Matthew Hoggard's Test career in Hamilton after 248 wickets, the end of Steve Harmison's automatic starting berth in the very same game and the revival of the career of Andrew Strauss. With combined match figures of 2-261 the Hamilton Test was a watershed moment for Harmison and Hoggard; both were dropped after the Hamilton Test and though Harmison made sporadic appearances thereafter including playing his part in the 2009 home Ashes win, this was the end of the road for Hoggard.
With Simon Jones' knee having never recovered from the injury suffered at Trent Bridge in 2005 and Andrew Flintoff's ongoing injury problems, this was the end for the Fab Four which had propelled England to Ashes glory in 2005; within months, their captain from that halcyon summer would also be gone as an out of form Vaughan's knee would finally betray him. Previously bedevilled with injuries and being unable to displace the 2005 heroes, Anderson's recall in Wellington reaped immediate dividend with seven wickets in the match; Harmison was replaced with Stuart Broad who took three wickets and both younger bowlers impressed Vaughan so much that they became the first choice attack and neither man has looked back.
The third Test in Napier marked the resurgence of Andrew Strauss after a dry spell with the bat and swirling rumours that another failure would mark the end of his Test career. A first innings duck added to the pressure but Strauss responded with 177; his place assured, his path to the captaincy would open just months later after Vaughan's retirement and Pietersen's brief ill fated tenure. Strauss would of course go on to become one of England's most successful captains of recent years winning the Ashes home and away - and not many England captains can claim that - and developing the building blocks for the dominant England team that rose to #1 in the world were now in place.
An eventful tour you might say.