NZ XI v Eng XI, Tour match, Queenstown, 3rd day March 1, 2013

Tough situation perfect preparation - Prior

Rather than seeing England's top-order problems against the New Zealand XI as a worry ahead of the Test series, Matt Prior believes the situation has given the warm-up match added value that will aid preparations for Dunedin.

Having been flayed at six-an-over during the morning session before the home side declared, England then slumped to 67 for 4 which included failures for Nick Compton and Kevin Pietersen after the pair also failed to shine on the opening day.

Prior was promoted to No. 5 and responded with a typically positive 68 which included 11 boundaries and was pleased to have been put into a situation where there was pressure to pull the side out of trouble.

"For me personally, to be in that position - not dissimilar to how it would be in a Test match, if we'd lost a few early wickets with bowlers running in hard - to knuckle down and find a bit of rhythm out in the middle is perfect preparation. That's very, very pleasing and is what you're trying to get out of warm-up matches."

The New Zealand XI, from which as many as four players could appear in the Test next week, have pushed England over the three days. With all the players in the home side aiming to impress the national selectors and management - Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, and the director of cricket John Buchanan were both at the ground - there has been an edge to the contest not always associated with warm-up matches.

"We'd far prefer this from a warm-up match than guys just coming in and going through the motions," Prior said. "You don't want dead cricket, and we're going in tomorrow with the opportunity to win a game. From a preparation point of view, it's absolutely fantastic."

Prior, who like Pietersen and Compton only joined the tour last week, was not concerned about the lack of runs from some in the top order.

"The guys are experienced enough and have played long enough now to know that the big test starts next week, and that's when it's important they score runs. They've been on tours where they haven't scored any runs in warm-up games, and then blitzed a hundred in the first Test."

BJ Watling, the New Zealand wicketkeeper batsman who finished unbeaten on 66 and bagged four catches, was also not going to read too much into England's batting form, although he will no doubt have some tips to pass onto Brendon McCullum. "Sometimes you nick them and sometimes you don't," he said. "I'm sure they'll be ready for the Test."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Glenn on March 2, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    You can't read much into this. The English attack lacked two key bowlers in Finn and Anderson, who will make a huge difference come Test time. It also shows outside 5 or 6 stars, they lack as much depth as we (NZ) do. The pleasing thing is that some of the youngters such as Latham, Rutherford and Anderson performed well and BJ Watling continues to grow as a player. His was a terrific performance. Wagner probably did enough to earn his Test spot, but needs a performance in the Test arena to convince me he's up to it. He may not even play depending on the attack make up, however in Dunedin four seamers and Williamson maybe the best option. Anyway, I believe this gives NZ some hope that they can compete and maybe this Test series will be allot closer than we all thought?

  • Dummy4 on March 1, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    I would be worried if I was Compton or Broad. Root for Compaton and any of a range of quicks (or even a second spinner) for Broad. When Broad has to bowl 4 overs he seems ok, as soon as you need more, his pace drops, the ball dies and he neither swings nor seams it. Onions, Tremlett, Bresnan, Panesar, Meaker all want his place in the side. Compton needs a big score in the first test ideally. He's done nothing wrong, but Root looks a better player when the heat is on.

  • Tim on March 1, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    England will really have to do something special if they are to lose this series. Agreed @regofpicton, Wagner playing will be a bonus for England, he's distinctly average. I would like to see the Black Caps put up a good show and doubtless they have it in them

  • Mark on March 1, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    @jmcilhinney Wise words. On Compton, the doomsday scenario would be that he fails in the first two Tests and England need to win the third to win the series. In that case, I think that they would wield the axe and Root would be moved up to open. However, it would mean bringing someone into the middle order who has not played since the ODIs, so it really would be a last resort. Everyone will be hoping that it doesn't come to that. Like many other before him, Nick Compton just needs one decent innings to give him the confidence to kick on.

  • Reg on March 1, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    It would be a huge bonus for England if they can use the match to persuade our selectors that Wagner is a realstic option. I cannot forget the fact that he went for 135 for 1 in no time in sethfrica. Why expect anything different here and now?

  • Dummy4 on March 1, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    or rather perfect keeper/batsmen in the world right now. all the luck english.

  • Andrew on March 1, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    Well Prior is 100% right - although in most ways he would wish he wasn't. England were in a shade of bother, but now should be safe. The result is almost meaningless, but the lack of crease time for some of the batsmen would be a concern.

  • John on March 1, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    You can excuse a bit of rustiness after a bit of a layoff but it didn't seem to affect Prior. KP's the sort of guy who can turn it on any time so, while a big Test series is by no means guaranteed, a poor performance here is also no real indication that he'll fail in the Tests. Compton's the biggest worry. Unlike some of the others, he doesn't have any built up credit so, if he doesn't impress during this series, he may lose his one and only chance to cement a place in the England team. The selectors may well push Root up to open if his good form continues and then revisit the other candidates for the #6 spot.

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