England are to begin their 2021 home schedule with two Tests against current world No 1 side New Zealand in June, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced Monday.
Three Twenty20 internationals against Sri Lanka have also been added to the programme, with the ECB having previously announced England will play a one-day series against the same opponents.
New Zealand climbed to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings for the first time following a 2-0 series win over Pakistan earlier this month. The Black Caps have won their last six Tests but the series in England, featuring matches at Lord’s (June 2-6) and Edgbaston (June 10-14) will be their first overseas campaign since December 2019.
New Zealand’s most recent trip to Britain ended with a heartbreaking Super Over loss to England in the 2019 50-over World Cup final at Lord’s.
The two matches in June will be England’s first home Test series against New Zealand since 2015.
England, who completed a 2-0 series win away to Sri Lanka on Monday, are now set to play at least seven Tests in their 2021 home season, with a five-match series against India already scheduled to begin in August.
“The prospect of our England men’s team taking on the world’s two top-ranked Test nations in New Zealand and India this summer is something for us all to savour,” said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.
England could in fact play eight Tests in the season if they qualify for the inaugural World Test Championship final.
This is scheduled to take place in England, possibly from June 18-22 (with a reserve day of June 23) at Lord’s, although the ICC have still to confirm the exact dates and venue.
New Zealand are well-placed to qualify for the showpiece match, with England still in contention.
Meanwhile, England will play a three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka, with matches at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on June 23 and 24 at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl on June 26.
They will then face Sri Lanka in a previously arranged three-match one-day international series.