The New Zealand players do not even have to report for duty until two days before the first Test at Lord's starting on Thursday because of their Indian Premier League commitments.

But they will be full of confidence having enjoyed two years of almost unbroken success since they were dismissed for 45 by South Africa in Cape Town in early 2013.

In 2014 they won five Tests in a year for the first time and have climbed to third in the world Test rankings.

With Brendon McCullum setting the tone at the top of the order with astonishing innings of brutal aggression, they progressed to the World Cup final for the first time this year before succumbing to co-hosts Australia in Melbourne.

McCullum became the first New Zealander to pass 300 in a Test innings last year during a monumental exhibition of concentration against India in Wellington.

He fell for 195 against Sri Lanka in Christchurch with the record for the fastest Test double hundred at his mercy.

His 33 Test sixes were more than double the previous best and he became the first New Zealander to score 1,000 runs in a calendar year.

Leading from the front in all forms of the game, McCullum has become the most innovative and enterprising captain in international cricket.

Tim Southee and Trent Boult have been acclaimed by the country's finest cricketer Richard Hadlee as the best opening attack to represent New Zealand and Kane Williamson is on course to break all his nation's batting records.

England won 2-0 at home two years ago but the New Zealanders have not lost a series since and they opened their tour with a comfortable win over Somerset.

"It was a little scratchy at times but there were enough good things," coach Mike Hesson said.

"The tempo with the bat was good and some of the guys got runs but I thought with the ball we were a bit inconsistent."

Opening batsman Martin Guptill, who hit a world record 237 not out against West Indies in the World Cup, is set to return to the Test arena. He warmed up for the first Test nicely by scoring 150 in the victory over Worcestershire.

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