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May 9, 2008
New Zealanders 261 for 9 (Redmond 139*, McCullum 47, Hoggard 3-41, Tremlett 3-58) trail England Lions 280 by 19 runs
Aaron Redmond gave the New Zealanders a timely batting tonic with a grafting century on the second day against England Lions at The Rose Bowl, although they still face a deficit after a late collapse. The visitors stumbled to 47 for 3 against the new ball, but Redmond batted throughout the day for a career-best 139. Chris Tremlett was the pick of the Lions attack, generating awkward bounce for his three wickets to remind the selectors of his presence.
At 28, Redmond is being given a late crack at breaking into the Test arena after transforming himself from a legspinner to an opener. He has made a good impression early in the tour, more with his fighting qualities than weight of runs, and registered New Zealand's second century of the trip to follow James Marshall's 128 against Essex. It came in similar circumstances, too, after a familiar struggle for other members of the top order other than a sparkling 43-ball 47 by Brendon McCullum.
Redmond isn't a particularly expansive batsman, but concentrates hard and plays within his own constraints. He wasn't always convincing against the quicks - taking a blow on the head from Tremlett - and was dropped on 97 by Graeme Swann at first slip after edging an outswinger from Graham Onions. He added 77 with McCullum and 72 with Jacob Oram, bringing up his hundred off 217 balls by pulling a long-hop from Adil Rashid.
The only blemish on his innings was the mix-up that brought end of McCullum's exciting knock when he sent him back and Michael Carberry's bullet-arm caught McCullum short. He'd struck seven strong boundaries to steady the innings with the sort of power that will make England's bowlers wary next week and he couldn't hide his frustration after the mix-up.
Matthew Hoggard didn't do much to boost his chances of a Test recall and had to wait 18 overs for his first wicket before a late surge added some gloss to his figures. He is fighting for a place alongside James Anderson, who took a timely five-wicket haul as Lancashire wrapped up victory against Durham and Andrew Flintoff. He has been in the wickets for Yorkshire, including a six-wicket bag against Nottinghamshire, but suffered a frustrating day with regular edges going down to third man and a lack of swing.
Onions struck the opening blow with his second delivery when Jamie How was given out lbw even though the ball struck very high on the pad. Onions remained the better of the opening bowlers, finding some swing on a warm morning to make life hard work for Redmond and Marshall. Tremlett replaced Hoggard after a six-over burst and the batsmen didn't enjoy his extra bounce and Marshall turned a short ball straight to Luke Wright at short leg. It was a soft dismissal and not a great sign with Lord's likely to offer good bounce for the quick bowlers.
Ross Taylor hasn't settled since arriving from the IPL and failed twice against Essex. He is the one class-act in the top five likely to have a sustained Test career and has a key role to play if New Zealand are to be competitive over the next month. But his habit of chasing the ball early in the innings makes him a loose starter and he fell to Tremlett, pushing away from his body to give Matt Prior a simple catch.
After McCullum and Redmond stopped an immediate collapse Daniel Flynn occupied the crease without ever dominating. He is known as a strokemaker back in New Zealand, but here and at Chelmsford has appeared uncertain whether to attack or defend. However, the preference for him over Peter Fulton for the warm-up matches shows the way the New Zealand selectors are thinking and he, like Redmond, can look forward to a Test debut at headquarters. Onions ended Flynn's 77-ball stay, trapping him half forward, due reward for a wholehearted display from Onions who also out-bowled Hoggard.
Oram formed another useful stand of 72 with until falling to Tremlett's second delivery with the second new ball, gloving down the leg side. Hoggard then gave his day a late boost when Jeetan Patel edged to second slip, added Tim Southee with another nice outswinger and trapped Iain O'Brein lbw, but it shouldn't mask a below-par display.
The same could be said about Redmond's innings and New Zealand's batting. He scored more than half the team's total and they need their batting to fire as a unit come next week. But at least he will start with some confidence, and when your debut is at Lord's that's a decent way to begin.
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