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Wood's new-ball role an eye to the future beyond Anderson-Broad

Mark Wood was given the new ball Getty Images

England have begun their succession planning for life after James Anderson and Stuart Broad with Mark Wood given the chance to open the bowling against the New Zealand XI in Hamilton.

Wood shared the new ball with Anderson, bowling a three-over spell, before being replaced by Broad who struck with his first delivery to remove Jeet Raval. Broad took the second new ball under the lights in the evening - when he again dismissed Raval with batsmen able to return in somewhat farcical scenes. England's most prolific bowling pair will hope to stay together for some time yet, but in a sign of Joe Root starting to think further ahead into his captaincy tenure, minds have been cast to the future.

"Yesterday, we had a bowlers' meeting, and he pulled me in at the end and said that - further down the line - if the two guys finish at around the same time, we don't want two fresh opening bowlers. So it's a chance in a practice game to give different lads a chance," Wood said.

"I was a bit surprised when he told me, but it was obviously a huge honour to open the bowling for England - especially with Jimmy. I was shocked, to be fair, because they're a prolific opening partnership. But it was a chance for me to try to impress."

Though Broad, who sits on 399 Test wickets, struggled in the Ashes to cap a disappointing 2017, there is no suggestion that his position is under threat for this series - and he looked in decent shape on the opening day at Seddon Park - but there is something of a neat symmetry that the future of England's attack is being considered where their two most prolific bowlers first joined forces in 2008.


After the first Test in Hamilton, where England crashed to a 189-run defeat, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard were dropped by captain Michael Vaughan for the next match in Wellington with Broad and Anderson taking their place. Though Harmison would play again, and it was a little while until Broad and Anderson consistently shared the new ball, it was the beginning of an alliance that would carry England through the next decade.

Nothing as dramatic is expected on this tour, but there remain question marks over the make-up of the England attack for the first Test with three bowlers missing the two-day pink-ball match with niggles. Ben Stokes (back), Chris Woakes (hamstring) and Craig Overton (quad) were not considered while Mason Crane (back spasm) joined the list having initially been included in the 13.

It is hoped all four will be available for the second two-day game, which will be played with the red ball, although Stokes' back will be monitored after his exertions on returning to international action in the ODIs. If they are fit, Woakes and Overton could get a chance with the new ball in the second match and it also raises the possibility that the Anderson-Broad new-ball partnership in Tests could be split while both remain in the team.

Given Wood's own injury record, it remains to be seen what sort of Test career he can put together but this was a chance for him to impress. He was even regularly jumping wide in his delivery stride which is a sign the ankle is holding up well. Though figures of 2 for 80 don't stand out, there were times when he bowled with decent pace as Root used him in short bursts throughout, his longest spell four overs. He found the outside edge of Colin de Grandhomme in his second spell and then claimed Doug Bracewell, shouldering arms, after lunch before the rollicking 163-run stand between Tom Blundell and Kyle Jamieson changed the look of the day.

"At times, it was a little bit up and down for me personally," he said. "At times, I felt I bowled really well - and then other times not so well. I think they should burn that top end, so I don't have to bowl from there anymore. It was hard going, especially from that end for some reason for me.

"I guess it was rhythm. At times, I almost felt I tried too hard, got a bit tense and tried to bowl too quick - then when I let it flow, it seemed to come out better. It was nice having the experience of Jimmy and Broady next to you. They know me well, so they can say where I'm going wrong and what I'm doing right."

If all England's pace-bowling options are fit, Wood believes he still sits some way down the pecking order. He played the last of his 10 Tests against South Africa at Trent Bridge last July but was already suffering a heel problem by then caused by wearing the wrong insoles. Overall he has 26 wickets at 40.65.

"I think the main four are Jimmy, Broady, Woakesy and Stokesy - your four lead bowlers. I'm trying to push my way in, but they're four quality bowlers. It's hard to get in - especially with Jimmy and Broady's unbelievable record. Woakesy's been in unbelievable form, Stokesy balances the team - so it's hard to see where you'd fit in.

"Craig [Overton] obviously did really well in the Ashes, and he offers something different. So I guess it depends on the pitch and conditions and what the captain wants."