England XI 465 (Brook 97, Lawrence 85, Root 77, Foakes 57) vs New Zealand XI
As England’s tour match at Seddon Park drifted to an inevitably tame conclusion, the prospect of further fine-tuning ahead of the series opener in Mount Maunganui was thrown into doubt with warnings of an incoming tropical cyclone.
On Thursday the MetService issued a warning that Cyclone Gabrielle would hit the upper of New Zealand’s North Island from Sunday morning, bringing gusts of up to 150kph and as much as 300mm of rain at the start of the week. Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has extended the state of emergency for a further seven days as a result, a week after torrential rains caused widespread damage to the region. The Coromandel Peninsula, which sits just above Mount Maunganui, has followed suit.
England are due to arrive on Sunday with the first Test starting next Thursday (February 16). The first three days of next week were viewed as the ideal lead-in to bring players fully up to scratch, supplementing the four days training at the venue earlier in the tour, and this week in Hamilton, which culminates in an optional session on Friday morning (February 9). Now that build-up looks under serious threat.
“Some characters don’t need warm-up games,” McCullum said. “The bigger the competition, the more they step up. He [Stokes] has never been a warm-up-game kind of guy and I don’t see that changing any time soon.”
Anderson and Broad opened proceedings, reunited after Broad missed Pakistan for the birth of his first child, and it was the latter who got the ball rolling, taking a sharp return catch off William O’Donnell. Anderson was made to wait until the 73rd over, removing Curtis Heaphy, caught at first slip by Joe Root once the lights had taken over for the first time in the match. However, he did affect a dismissal earlier with the run-out of Robert O’Donnell.
Up to now, Stone’s return to action had been white-ball only: for Warwickshire, Chennai Braves in the T10, MI Cape Town in the SA20 and the first two ODIs of England’s series with South Africa, before flying to New Zealand. Here, he bowled with good pace, eventually snaring Sunde with a sharp delivery eliciting a twitch outside off stump from the right-hander.
Potts, Stone and Broad will be vying for one spot in the XI for the first Test, with Anderson, Robinson and Leach in possession. The consideration for Stokes and McCullum is who will offer the best point of difference as England seek to bring to an end a seven-match winless run in New Zealand and in turn register a first series win here since 2008.
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