NZ XI v Eng XI, Tour match, Queenstown, 2nd day February 28, 2013

Rutherford impresses in NZ XI reply


New Zealand XI 224 for 6 (Rutherford 90, Brownlie 63) trail England XI 426 (Bell 158, Cook 60, Neesham 4-73, Wagner 4-98) by 202 runs

Hamish Rutherford cemented himself a Test debut in Dunedin next week with a composed 90 against the England XI in Queenstown. However, the New Zealand XI stumbled late in the day to close on 224 for 6 in reply to England's 426, with two wickets falling in the last two overs.

This was Rutherford's first first-class innings since the end of January due to his limited-overs call-up for New Zealand, so it was timely to get back into the rhythm of longer-form batting ahead of a pressurised occasion where, barring unforeseen circumstances, he will partner the recalled Peter Fulton.

He took an early blow on the arm from Stuart Broad and a couple of his drives skewed in the air backward of point - England would do well to keep that area well populated during the Tests - but he struck the ball sweetly with good timing to collect 13 fours and a straight lofted six off Graeme Swann. He fell during the final session, bowled by Chris Woakes, when the ball perhaps did not bounce as expected.

Tom Latham, who is also in the Test squad, did not take his chance in what had been billed as a Test trial although Rutherford was always the favoured option. After partnering Rutherford through to lunch in a half-century opening stand - something the full side have not managed in seven Tests - Latham was lbw on the back foot to the first ball after lunch from Swann. The offspinner bowled economically and claimed his second wicket with the last ball of the day when Jimmy Neesham was lbw.

However, the fight for the final England bowling spot was a subdued affair. Graham Onions' chances of filling the third pace-bowling slot diminished as he ended the day with none for 75 off 16 overs. His disappointing warm-up form in India was a major reason why a call-up eluded him, even when injuries struck the attack, and carrying the drinks awaits him again.

At the moment, therefore, a recall for Broad appears the likeliest path England will take after he worked up the most eye-catching pace of the three quicks on show. Broad was dropped after two wicketless Tests in India, although it is unlikely he was ever fully fit on that tour even before being sent home. In Queenstown, after a slightly tentative first spell, he moved through the gears during the afternoon when he had Carl Cachopa caught low at second slip for his first first-class wicket since the final Test against South Africa, at Lord's in August.

On a slow pitch, Broad got the ball to carry through nicely to Matt Prior and New Zealand's solid reply meant he was able to test the resilience of his heel by returning for multiple spells.

A decent stint in the field will do England no harm ahead of the Test series. There is the expectation that New Zealand's batting won't detain them for too long. However, if the surfaces match this one for slowness it will even the contest, although James Anderson and Steven Finn will provide a cutting edge.

Dean Brownlie, another batsman who will line up in Dunedin, continued his good form from South Africa and the Plunket Shield with a compact half-century. He had one uncomfortable moment against Onions, when he was struck by a sharp bouncer, otherwise he was at ease against pace and spin until being lbw to Jonathan Trott in the closing stages of the day.

Brownlie was one of the few batsmen to emerge with some credit from South Africa after a century in Cape Town. He did not face England in the limited-overs matches so this will have been a valuable innings for him. However, whatever knowledge and confidence he gained against the England bowlers will also work in reverse and Andy Flower will have been taking copious notes

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Nicholas on March 1, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer: Cool - cheers; no hard feelings. Yeah it will be interesting to see what the selectors try. I think the team looks more-or-less set now regardless of remaining play; it's just the order that may need some debate.

  • Mark on March 1, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    At that stage Onions has already shown that he was far from ready and Woakes really needed to do something against the top order on day 2 rather than against the tail on day 3. He'd batted. he'd bowled. Both were sort of OK, but nothing special. I suppose that things may change if Woakes or Onions were to take a 7-for and bowl England to victory tomorrow, but even that it would be debatable. Woakes played in the ODIs without making a huge case. Onions was with the squad all through and hasn't even made a case to play. The selectors must have some idea of their form and readiness by now! Incidentally I asked "why do you say that?" asking for clarification, rather than, as you are suggesting, challenging your right to say it.

  • Nicholas on March 1, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer (post on February 28, 2013, 21:04 GMT): Why can't I say that? Yesterday was the first bowling opportunity for both Woakes and Onions in a long time, whereas Broad has had the luxury of acclimatising in the shorter formats. Yesterday when I wrote my post, the figures for all 3 seamers were pretty even to me. You are quite right - Broad did bowl well with good pace and consistency, but was that enough for you and others to immediately say yes - that's Broad in the team for sure? My point was, which I apologize for not making clear, that if on day 3 either of Woakes or Onions put in a fantastic spell or two with the ball, they deserve a turn in the first test.

  • Mark on March 1, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    @jmcilhinney The only slight doubt was the possiblity that a strong performance by Woakes could have forced him into the XI at the cost of a batsman (even so, who would they drop to make room for him? Compton looks the most vulnerable, but to drop him and promote Root smacks of panic and, these days, the selectors do not panic). Woakes has failed twice with the bat and, with the ball, has been OK rather than stellar so, no case to promote him. Compton will get at least two Tests and if, going into the 3rd, the series is in danger and Compton is in bad nick, then they might well be ruthless and promote Root to open. As for poor Onions... I expected him to love New Zealand pitches yet he seems to have pushed himself out of contention for the near future.

  • John on March 1, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    While I've learned not to place too much stock in the results of warmup matches, the insipid start that England have made to their second innings does not instil confidence. Compton, Trott and KP all fail to impress again and there was no Cook to bail them out this time, although his being run out is not so bad as it not something you would expect to be made a habit of. Typically breezy innings by Prior so all looks well there but, from the numbers, an odd innings from Root. Maybe he wants that opening spot and wanted to show that he could be stodgy. Woakes won't play the first Test but this is a chance to impress for the future at least.

  • Neil on March 1, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    Please no Compton. Far too defensive - set's completely the wrong tone.

  • Benny on March 1, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    I'm feeling reasonably confident about England going into the first test. However, seeing Broad 1-68, Onions 1-131 and Woakes 1-64 against New Zealand A, I sure hope Jimmy and Finn stay fit.

  • John on February 28, 2013, 23:22 GMT

    It looks like Corey Anderson really took to Onions in the morning session on day 3. Onions ended up extremely expensive but I'm glad that Cook gave him as many overs as everyone else because, while it would be nice to win, the result of the match doesn't really matter and the only way that Onions can get back into rhythm is to bowl.

  • John on February 28, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (February 28, 2013, 21:04 GMT), I agree that the first Test XI is pretty much set in stone. There's no way that they're going to leave Trott or KP out even if they fail again in the second innings here. If Compton was to fail again then they could move Root up to open and bring in Bairstow at #6 but then he'd be coming in with no warmup and I doubt that they want to move Root or give up on Compton just yet anyway. As for the bowling, the fact that Anderson and Finn aren't playing says that they're in and Swann would be in even if he hadn't done fairly well here. As for Broad, it sounds like he's bowled exact as England would have wanted on a wicket that was fairly unresponsive after the first morning. While I sympathise with him, there's no way England could pick Onions in their best XI at the moment and Woakes would have had to do something special with at least one, probably both, of bat and ball to displace anyone.

  • Ed on February 28, 2013, 22:35 GMT

    So we picked Broad when he was out of form and Onions was on fire - and now we're going to pick Onions when he's out of form ? I guess Onions doesn't have a Dad on the board ;-)

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