Windy Wellington poses questions for New Zealand quicks
Shane Bond, the New Zealand bowling coach, said it had yet to be decided which of his bowlers will draw the short straw of needing to bowl into the wind at the Basin Reserve.
The into-the-wind role in Wellington can be unlike any other ground in the world, as gales howl up the Cook Strait and right down the Basin. One of the problems for the current New Zealand side, which is set to retain the same balance of attack, is that the three quicks usually have the wind in their favour in domestic cricket.
"It's an interesting one," Bond said. "All three are strike bowlers in their own right and do a different role for their domestic team, but it's certainly something you have to consider when you come to Wellington - who will do that role.
"All three aren't used to doing it so hopefully we'll get days where it isn't too windy. But it's something you also have to think about when you go back to domestic cricket; bowl some spells into the wind to prepare yourself for this level."
Although one of the quicks will, obviously, have to bowl into whatever wind there is with the new ball, Bond added that later in the day the job will probably be shared between the full set to ensure no one is overburdened.
Bond is confident that the attack can recover from their large workloads in Dunedin. New Zealand's three quicks - Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner - sent down 114 of the 170 overs in England's second innings and will be treated carefully over the next two days.
"We always knew the guys are fit, and can bowl a lot of volume, we just need to make sure they are fresh and ready to go," Bond said. "I thought we bowled our best on day five even after a day in the park. I was pleased with that."
However, Matt Prior suggested the situation was to England's advantage "I'm sure the New Zealand bowlers will be feeling it. Any seamer bowling 40 overs is a mammoth effort. I'd rather have been batting for 170 overs than fielding, let's put it that way."
The standout performance in Dunedin came from Neil Wagner who bagged seven wickets in his first home Test. He bowled 43 overs in the second innings, including an afternoon spell on the final day of 8-2-20-2 that included the wickets of Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen. Bond, an aggressive fast bowler in his day, was hugely impressed with Wagner's stamina.
"That's the one thing I've really enjoyed about working with Neil, that never-say-die attitude, he will always run in," he said. "Even at the back end of the fifth day he was still running in hard after 40 overs, so that's credit to him. When you go in with four bowlers there can certainly be no weak link in the chain in terms of volume."
There are a variety of predictions being made about the pitch for the second Test, ranging from another slow surface that was on show in Dunedin to a surface where the ball will fly through at good pace. What appears to be generally accepted, however, is that the spinners' role will be very much a holding one.
"It was a bowlers' graveyard in the first game, it certainly wasn't a 160 wicket," Bond said. "I'd back our bowlers on wickets that do a bit. In terms of winning Tests that's our best chance, some assistance to the quick bowlers."
Having briefly looked at the pitch on Tuesday, Prior said "it doesn't look a slow one" although two days out from a match is really too early to judge a Test surface. Regardless of the pitch, Prior is aware that another poor first innings will not be tolerated despite the confidence boost England receive in saving the opening Test.
"You can't ignore that first innings," he said. "But then you have to look at the way we kept fighting hard with the ball, and then the way we finished with the bat was sensational. We're becoming a very hard team to beat, but we want to go that one step further and start winning."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo