England Lions v New Zealanders, Tour match, Grace Road

Settled New Zealand weigh options

Andrew McGlashan at Grace Road

May 8, 2013

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Brendon McCullum takes part in a fielding drill, England Lions v New Zealanders, Tour match, Grace Road, May 8, 2013
Brendon McCullum: "We have got a pretty good squad here and what we think is a reasonable eleven" © Getty Images
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New Zealand appear to be moving towards sticking with the 11 players used in the home series against England when the return contest starts at Lord's next week.

An unchanged top-order seems certain after Martin Guptill was left out of the final warm-up match against England Lions, while Doug Bracewell could struggle to force his way into the line-up although has a chance to impress at Grace Road in the absence of Neil Wagner who has been rested.

Guptill missed the series in New Zealand due to a hamstring injury followed by thumb surgery and both opening slots in the side have been successfully filled by Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton, although neither shone against Derbyshire. That left Guptill battling for a middle-order place but he made just 25 and 8 in the first warm-up match while Dean Brownlie, the most under-pressure of the incumbent batsmen, made 71 in the first innings.

Wagner, who formed a three-pronged pace attack with Tim Southee and Trent Boult in New Zealand, took eight wickets in the match against Derbyshire. Brendon McCullum confirmed there were no injury worries over him after he had problems with a toenail towards the end of that game. "Wagner has a huge chance of playing at Lord's," he said. "He's fine, it was just a case of bowlers and toenails."

McCullum has also previously said that he is keen to retain balance in the attack with Bruce Martin's left-arm spin, although it is not inconceivable that if conditions were persuasive enough New Zealand may consider an all-pace attack at Lord's and rely on Kane Williamson's offspin for variation. Williamson was a surprisingly effective bowler in the previous series, taking four wickets in the second innings in Auckland, when England hung on nine wickets down, while Martin went wicketless.

"We have got a pretty good squad here and what we think is a reasonable eleven," McCullum said. "The guys who played the other day performed well and put pressure on the incumbents and we haven't bedded down our Test team just yet."

Bracewell, who has 46 wickets at 31.89 in 15 matches, made a case for a Test recall with seven wickets against Derbyshire having missed the home series after injuring his foot standing on glass. However, another factor in Wagner's favour is that England have at times struggled against left-arm pace bowlers. Alastair Cook fell to either Wagner or Boult in four out of his five innings in the recent Test series.

"We'll see how Doug goes but I'm confident both can do a role," McCullum said. "It's more a horses-for-courses policy rather than favouring one person."

New Zealand XI 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 Peter Fulton, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Dean Brownlie, 6 Brendon McCullum (capt), 7 BJ Watling, 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Bruce Martin, 11 Trent Boult

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by shane-oh on (May 9, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

@maitland - to clarify, my reference to McCullum was (as stated) referring to the last few years in the whites, not the last few games. He did have a great summer, although it must be pointed out he still failed to go on and get the big scores expected of players who are there as batsmen - great starts aren't enough, we need hundreds from him. In any case, he has under delivered in the test arena since giving up the keeping gloves.

Posted by maitland on (May 9, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

You sometimes wonder whether everyone is watching the same game. McCallum was probably the form batsman of the NZ summer. To suggest he is under threat does make you wonder where some people are coming from. Taylor is the most out of form batsman. The openers are still a worry. We need greater consistency from Rutherford in particular. Latham has not done enough to be a contender, certainly not as an opener. Guptil had his chance in the warmup game and wasn't good enough. Wagner did rip out the top order in the warmup whereas Bracewell largely cleaned up the tail. Bracewell has had his chances and has never come on as an allrounder as some had hoped.

Posted by shane-oh on (May 9, 2013, 10:37 GMT)

I like the idea of four seamers as well, if for no other reason than the fact that they are all bowling very well and it seems a shame to not use them all. It also serves the dual purpose of having a little pressure on Williamson to deliver as a spinner - and this is good because I'd like to see his spin developed over the coming years. Not to the detriment of his batting, mind you, but definitely as an option either when we want to carry four seamers, or want to have 2 spinners. It will greatly help the balance of the team and his bowling has come on very well over the last 12 months as it is.

Guptill is unlucky to miss out but I guess that's the price you pay for having a top and middle order either in form or well established. The only batsmen who should really be under pressure because of failure to deliver runs in tests for a few years now is McCullum - but we all know how things work with his best buddy in charge.

Looks like a good team overall though.

Posted by Cyril_Knight on (May 9, 2013, 9:33 GMT)

In the two Championship matches as Lord's so far this season there have been, exactly 100 overs of spin. Spinners have taken 7 wickets at 37.7 at an economy rate of 2.64.

But of those who bowled, only Batty and Raynor are what we would call spin bowlers by trade (Durston, Solanki, Harinath, Sterling and Malan are not).

What we do know is that teams are reluctant to pick/bowl spinners early in the season at Lord's. But what this might suggest is that they can do a job, although with a strike rate of a wicket every 86 balls, it would be a containing job.

Posted by Gagg on (May 9, 2013, 6:51 GMT)

I hate this play a spinner for no reason other that having a spinner in the team, its all about taking wickets and the warmup match Bracewell took more that Martin. I say 4 seamers and Williamson.

Posted by Kiwi_Gav on (May 9, 2013, 6:46 GMT)

I definitely think NZ should go with the four pacemen who each bring a little bit of their own variety. They are all young and hungry and for me with clever (McCullum has this no problems) rotation do not need the protection of a spinner to bowl overs to "rest" other bowlers. Williamson can adequately pick up overs if it does prove to spin a bit. Wagner definitely deserves to keep his spot and Bracewell well worth bringing back in. Batting is more of a concern so hopefully Fulton, Rutherford and Taylor can get amongst the runs in this last warm up game. NZ don't want Williamson, Taylor and McCullum at the crease too early in this coming test.

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (May 9, 2013, 4:35 GMT)

All this talk about which bowlers are going to play, but i don't think the batting line up should be set in stone, i would want to see at least one descent score from one of our openers before the test otherwise latham should get the nod, he hasn't been dismissed, looks in good form, he did a great job opening for NZA against england, in my opinion he's done everything right. The guys there deserve their shot but if they don't score any runs why leave out an in form batter.

Posted by 22many on (May 9, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

if your spinner cant win a test on the fifth day on that pitch in Auckland then you wont at Lords....go in with four quicks like NZ did in AUstralia .....

Posted by Fruit_Man on (May 9, 2013, 3:49 GMT)

I have been watching New Zealand cricket for the last 50 years and i believe that this is a chance for the kiwis to win a test against a major cricketing nation. The only questionable player is Ross Taylor who has struggled to perform in the ipl (noted that it is a very different game) and at international test level of the past year.Get up the mighty Crusaders

Posted by landl47 on (May 9, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

NZ has a well-balanced side, with a good mixture of styles and skills. They also have the luxury of depth, something NZ hasn't had very often in the past. I don't think their form in NZ was a fluke and I expect them to push England very hard.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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