Following a successful T20 and ODI series against the Black Caps, England will be looking for another series win when the first test match starts at the University Oval in Dunedin on Wednesday 6th March (or Tuesday night if you are in the UK!)
The preparation has not exactly gone totally to plan though, with England loosing their only warm up game by 3 wickets. It was an interesting game with good knocks from Bell and Prior, and Stuart Broad bowling fairly well including his first first class wicket for over 6 months! Onions however remains a concern, he didn’t bowl well in the warm up game in India and the same thing happened in Queenstown, where he bowled 11 no balls and managed only 1 for 213 in 38 overs. Woakes actually didn’t do to bad, even though no-one is really talking about him, and his second innings was better than his first. Batting wise, no real concerns actually, Cook got off to good starts, Trott played a couple of poor shots (and could be seen and heard berating himself afterwards!) KP is well KP, he usually doesn’t bat well in warm up games, but turns up for the big occasion and the tail wagged which is good.
Need to talk about Compton as that is all anyone wants to talk about, especially those from Yorkshire! So yes he didn’t score many runs in the warm up game (21 and 1), and hasn’t yet gone on to a big total in a test match yet. But he has only played 4 test matches so I think its a bit early to judge his career, particularly as the alternative is Joe Root. While he played well in the T20, ODI series against NZ and in his only test appearance against India, its only 1 test and he is still young. Plus Compton hasn’t done anything wrong, he as put on good opening partnerships with Cook and looks an accomplished cricketer. Plus let us not forget that he was selected in India ahead of Root, so clearly the England management saw something in him. Finally its worth pointing out that his selection was based on an excellent couple of seasons in Somerset, where last season he scored nearly 1,000 runs in May, where there was lots of rain around and plenty of seamer friendly wickets. Finn and Anderson were rested for the warm up game, but they both looked might good in the ODI series and I expect them to be a handful!
To New Zealand, they have suffered a blow with Doug Bracewell being ruled out after cutting his foot on glass, apparently while clearing up after a party! They are trying another new opening partnership and with Finn and Anderson opening the bowling it will be a challenge and they will probably need their middle order to perform. As a Gloucestershire fan I am intrigued to see how Kane Williamson goes, and with Ross Taylor back in the squad they have some experience and depth. They do have some good quick bowlers too, so it will be a contest. I expect England to be to strong for New Zealand, but its not a forgone conclusion and England will need to play well to beat New Zealand at home. I can’t wait for it to start, I will be tucked up in bed listening to TMS. 🙂