England v New Zealand Tests - Men
Williamson returns, England lose injured Anderson
Kane Williamson, free from COVID, will return to the New Zealand captaincy against England, while the hosts have been forced into making one change
23 June 2022, 09:14 AM AEST
Kane Williamson is back to lead New Zealand's quest to avoid a series whitewash against England after watching last week's Trent Bridge thriller on his hotel television, while the hosts will be without an injured James Anderson.
Williamson tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms on the evening before the Nottingham Test and was forced to take in his side's dramatic fifth-day defeat in isolation.
Meanwhile, Jamie Overton will make his England Test debut at Headingley in place of Anderson, who has an ankle injury.
Williamson has picked the baton back up from deputy Tom Latham for the final Test, cleared for action alongside Devon Conway and Michael Bracewell who also both tested positive after the previous match.
"I watched a lot of it, I didn't have too much else to do," reflected Williamson of the Black Caps’ defeat in the second Test.
"I don't shout at the TV, I watch and observe. It's always interesting seeing it from a different perspective, although it wasn't my preferable place to be.
"It was interesting to watch and connect from the other side a little bit.
"There was a lot of effort that went into the match and you do have to applaud the quality England have come in with.
"It was a Test where both teams put their front foot forward, played some shots.
"England are a strong side playing well, so for us it's about improving as a side, the bigger picture.
"It's about focusing on our cricket and finding different areas of the game to target. The focus is on us and wanting to be better."
Williamson's return to the fold means a rebalancing of the side, with Henry Nicholls vulnerable among the specialist batters.
Experienced seamer Neil Wagner is also angling for his first appearance of the series, potentially at Tim Southee's expense following a forgettable showing last time out, and spinner Ajaz Patel holds his spot in a 13-man squad.
Meanwhile, England captain Ben Stokes revealed Overton's inclusion was England's sole change, with twin brother Craig missing out on a cap.
"Unfortunately Jimmy's not pulled up as well as we would have liked him to, so Jamie Overton's going to make his debut this week," Stokes told Sky Sports.
"It's unfortunate for Jimmy, but we've got a massive Test against India coming up as well.
"I'm not too sure how serious it is to be honest. He's just got a bit of a puffy ankle.
"Jamie's been very impressive, the way that he's bowled, we always want a point of difference in our side, bowling with serious pace and changing games as well.
"He fills a different role from Jimmy, but to have someone in your back pocket who can bowl 90 miles an hour is big for us.
"That's the only change this week. As tempting as it was to get both twins out there playing for England, Jamie's the only change."
England have already won the series after impressive victories in the opening two matches.
But new captain Stokes has told his players to go for the jugular in Leeds this week.
England blasted their way to victory in the second Test in Nottingham thanks to a virtuoso last day's batting, Jonny Bairstow hitting 136 and Stokes an unbeaten 75 as the hosts chased down their target of 299.
And now Stokes has told his England players to get back out there and put on a show for the Headingley crowd.
"I've said to the players this week, let's try and think like we're in the entertainment business rather than the sporting business," said Stokes.
"There's a reason why 20,000 people came out to watch us at Trent Bridge last week.
"So I set a challenge to the team to be even more fearless, positive and aggressive than last week."