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May 12, 2013
Doug Bracewell was not convinced he had done enough to force his way into New Zealand's plans for the first Test at Lord's if Tim Southee's foot injury clears up to give them a fully fit squad to select from on Thursday. The tourists also have concerns over the lack of middle time for Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor.
Bracewell claimed two wickets on the rain-shortened final day against England Lions to take his tour tally to nine, but was not thrilled with the way he bowled at Grace Road. He was perhaps being harsh on himself - he had Joe Root dropped at slip when on 23 - but is now keeping his fingers crossed that there will be a place for him at Lord's, a ground where he has only ever watched, rather than played, cricket.
"I think I could have done more," he said. "I guess I'm a little disappointed with how I went in this game, I would have liked to have taken a few more wickets and scored some runs. But I can't do anything about that now, I've just got to turn up to training, work hard, and hopefully I get picked. I've never played at Lord's, but have heard all about the slope. I'm looking forward to it."
There could yet be no need for debate if Southee's problem is more serious than indicated, although there do not appear too many concerns around the New Zealand camp. He went for scans on Saturday, which have not shown anything major, although further results are being awaited before a definitive statement is made.
It was a difficult few days in Leicester for New Zealand, after the match had begun promisingly for them with Hamish Rutherford hitting an aggressive hundred. The rest of the batting failed to impress and the bowlers struggled to make swift inroads into the Lions as Root hit 179 and fellow England middle-order batsman Jonny Bairstow contributed 68.
New Zealand will spend the next few days assessing their tactics to Root, who is in the form of his life heading into a first home Test. "I think we bowled a little short to him and on wickets which are pretty slow you can't afford to do that because it sits up," Bracewell said. "We'll look at some footage in the next couple of days and hopefully work out some good plans."
The other impact of Root's long innings - and other useful contributions throughout the order - was to deny New Zealand a second bat, which means that McCullum and Taylor have had only one proper innings each before the Test series. "From a team point of view we didn't get an extra innings with the bat, which isn't a great thing, but we've got a couple of day's training before the first Test which should be enough," Bracewell said.
Ashley Giles, who was coaching England Lions for this match, said their approach had always been to try to win rather than just deprive the opposition of another innings and was uncertain over whether New Zealand would feel any negative impact going into the Test.
"Maybe," he said, "only they can tell you that, but conditions have not been ideal - and I don't think McCullum played a lot at IPL either. The main thing for us was putting them under pressure and making it as difficult as possible. You could look at it two ways - grind them down in the dirt and make them suffer, or get them in and knock them over again."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?