It will also be England’s first game since appointing former New Zealand skipper McCullum as their Test coach, with the new leadership tandem hoping to restore the fortunes of a side that has won just one of its last 17 matches at this level and has gone over a year without a red-ball series triumph.
Under Kane Williamson, New Zealand became the inaugural World Test champions by defeating India in the final at Southampton last year, shortly after completing a 1-0 campaign victory on the road against England.
On Wednesday, despite all the hype of a new beginning, England chose a familiar-looking XI with only one debutant, fast bowler Matthew Potts.
Nonetheless, the influence of the dynamic all-rounder Stokes has resulted in the recall of the veteran new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
The duo is England’s most successful bowlers at this level, with a combined total of 1,177 Test wickets, were controversially left out of a recent 1-0 series defeat in the Caribbean.
Stokes was also a driving force behind the decision to promote Ollie Pope to number three, despite the Surrey batsmen’s limited Test record, with star batsman Joe Root moving back in his preferred number four position, and to keep struggling opener Zak Crawley.
‘This is our time’
“I’ve said to the guys who are in now: you’ve got the backing,” Stokes told a pre-match news conference at Lord’s on Wednesday. “This is our time and we are going to dictate how things go forward…I just want everyone to feel free under my captaincy.
“It’s been a good few days working with Brendon. He is all about making everyone feel, in his own words, ’10 feet tall’. I’m actually not nervous — I am just very excited to get going.”
The 23-year-old has claimed 35 wickets in six County Championship matches this season.
New Zealand has not officially named their Playing XI, but Daryl Mitchell will replace the injured Henry Nicholls.
Kiwis’ quick Trent Boult may not be able to play at Lord’s since he just arrived in England after participating in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final last weekend.
New Zealand’s squad includes Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, and Kyle Jameson, all of whom are capable of attacking England’s vulnerable top order.
“Trent is a world-class player but we’ve got great variety in our bowling attack,” Williamson said.
Thousands of tickets, some priced as high as £160 ($202) a day, remain unsold amidst a cost of living crisis and the rival attractions provided by this week’s platinum jubilee of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who is also the head of state of New Zealand.
A concerned Stokes said: “The ticket price is something that I think is going to have to be looked at properly, because what is cricket without its fans? What is sport without its fans?”