England had a mixed time of things on the opening day of their warm-up match against a New Zealand XI in Hamilton on Wednesday (March 14). The two-day game, being played under lights with a pink ball, started well enough for England as the hosts were reduced to 30 for 5, but by the close the New Zealand team had brilliantly recovered to make 376 runs in the day.
The game is not a first-class match and both teams have agreed that they will bat and bowl a full day each which means that some of the New Zealand XI batted twice at Seddon Park today, which certainly complicated things for the scorers. Although the format is not ideal, the home side are at least stronger opposition than England faced in their Ashes warm-up games.
The highlights for the home side were Kyle Jamieson and Tom Blundell with both scoring hundreds during a partnership of 176 in the afternoon and evening sessions while Scott Kuggeleijin, coming in at number nine, had some fun with a cameo of 45 from 37 balls which included four sixes to add to England’s frustration.
James Anderson was the pick of the tourists’ bowlers with four wickets while Mark Wood – who surprisingly opened the bowling ahead of Stuart Broad – took two. After those early inroads, however, England struggled to take wickets as the ball got older and softer – a familiar problem from the Ashes – and Moeen Ali took just one wicket from 23 overs, going at more than four runs an over.
Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Craig Overton were all left out of England’s team with minor ailments although it is expected that all three will be fit to play in the two-day match with the red ball against a different New Zealand XI which begins on Friday (March 16). Leg-spinner Mason Crane was named in England’s team of 13 but is suffering from a lower back issue which meant he could not bowl although again, it is not thought to be serious.