Black and white clash - Emirates24|7

Black and white clash

The mighty All Blacks take on an experimental England this weekend. (AFP)

England and New Zealand's sporting rivalry hits overdrive this week as both their cricket and rugby teams clash, while Six Nations champions Wales get a second bite at the cherry in South Africa.

New Zealand have never been good at Test cricket, seemingly unable to maintain an advantage for five days against the top sides – so to see them crumble 2-0 to England was no surprise.

However, in the short form of the game the multi-talented Black Caps unit are a force and they will also be bent on revenge when they take on England in a five match one day international series starting tomorrow.

When England toured New Zealand earlier this year the Black Caps overcame them 3-1 with the fourth game ending in an astonishing tie after both teams ended on 340 in their allotted 50 overs.

For the visitors Brendon McCullum, who in recent times has seen a rise in his batting fortunes, will be a real threat in the series. Still hot from that unbelievable 158 off 73 balls in the opening Indian Premier League match, the wicket-keeper has followed that up with a swash-buckling 99 in the first Test at Lord's and another century in the warm-up game for the ODI series against Worcestershire. The Black Caps will also be boosted by the return of experienced all-rounder Scott Styris.

England though, will still be favourites on home soil, but the same cannot be said of their rugby team who come face to face with the might of the All Blacks in Auckland. While South Africa hold the No1 ranking and World Cup title – even they have not won in New Zealand for nine years.

To make matters worse England's caretaker coach, Rob Andrew has named an experimental side with 2011 in mind. Only prop Andrew Sheridan retains his place from the team that competed in last year's final and the players who don the red rose emblem shirts today need to brace themselves for a trial by fire against the most adept side in rugby union.

The creative, fast and physical running game of the All Blacks is unsurpassed in rugby and a thrashing looks on the cards.

Staying in the region and on to Australia where new coach Robbie Deans makes his debut at the helm against Ireland. The former Crusaders man fresh from leading the New Zealand-club to the 2008 Super 14 title now swaps allegiances and prepares the Wallabies for the eventual clash with his country of birth in the Tri-nations next month.

On to South Africa where last week Wales were hammered 43-17 by the Springboks in the first match. The visitors get another chance to redeem themselves in the second Test in Pretoria, but still face an uphill battle as the home team have recalled World Cup Player of the Tournament, Victor Matfield, to their line-up.

 

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