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Tour Match (D/N), Hamilton, February 08 - 09, 2023, England tour of New Zealand
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England quicks find rhythm but cyclone threatens further Test build-up

Weather warning on North Island as two-day tour game peters out to draw

A general view of Seddon Park, Hamilton, during England's warm-up match, New Zealand XI v England, Hamilton, February 8, 2023

England go through their paces at Seddon Park in the lead-up to the first Test  •  Getty Images

England XI 465 (Brook 97, Lawrence 85, Root 77, Foakes 57) vs New Zealand XI
As England's tour match at Seddon Park drifted to an inevitably tame conclusion, the prospect of further fine-tuning ahead of the series opener in Mount Maunganui was thrown into doubt with warnings of an incoming tropical cyclone.
On Thursday the MetService issued a warning that Cyclone Gabrielle would hit the upper of New Zealand's North Island from Sunday morning, bringing gusts of up to 150kph and as much as 300mm of rain at the start of the week. Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has extended the state of emergency for a further seven days as a result, a week after torrential rains caused widespread damage to the region. The Coromandel Peninsula, which sits just above Mount Maunganui, has followed suit.
England are due to arrive on Sunday with the first Test starting next Thursday (February 16). The first three days of next week were viewed as the ideal lead-in to bring players fully up to scratch, supplementing the four days training at the venue earlier in the tour, and this week in Hamilton, which culminates in an optional session on Friday morning (February 9). Now that build-up looks under serious threat.
Day two of England's tour match at Seddon Park drifted predictably. A New Zealand XI flayed for 465 inside 69.2 overs on day one made the endeavour worthwhile with a spirited 310 all out in 82.1 overs through to 8:52pm local time. Quinn Sunde's battling yet classy 91 was the pick of their resistance.
The main quicks James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson and Olly Stone got a reasonable workout with the pink ball across three spells during the day. while Jack Leach led the way with 17 overs of left-arm spin.
Ben Stokes, however, remained a bystander as Ollie Pope captained in his absence, as was the case in England's warm-up match against the Lions ahead of the Pakistan series in Abu Dhabi. While he put himself through the wringer in the nets and out in the middle during the interval, there is a real chance that cyclone will prevent Stokes from getting the ideal amount of work in before the series begins.
It is not a fear not shared by head coach Brendon McCullum, however, who backed Stokes' decision to stay out of his whites for the last couple of days.
"Some characters don't need warm-up games," McCullum said. "The bigger the competition, the more they step up. He [Stokes] has never been a warm-up-game kind of guy and I don't see that changing any time soon."
Anderson and Broad opened proceedings, reunited after Broad missed Pakistan for the birth of his first child, and it was the latter who got the ball rolling, taking a sharp return catch off William O'Donnell. Anderson was made to wait until the 73rd over, removing Curtis Heaphy, caught at first slip by Joe Root once the lights had taken over for the first time in the match. However, he did affect a dismissal earlier with the run-out of Robert O'Donnell.
Numerically, Stone was the pick of the attack, finishing with 3 for 54. His previous first-class match had been the second Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston in June 2021 before a fourth stress fracture of the back and subsequent operation kept him out for a year.
Up to now, Stone's return to action had been white-ball only: for Warwickshire, Chennai Braves in the T10, MI Cape Town in the SA20 and the first two ODIs of England's series with South Africa, before flying to New Zealand. Here, he bowled with good pace, eventually snaring Sunde with a sharp delivery eliciting a twitch outside off stump from the right-hander.
Matthew Potts, however, was perhaps the most impressive quick on display, after missing out on the tour of Pakistan. His luck was summed up with his first delivery, which tailed in and seamed away to catch Test opener Will Young's outside edge, only for Zak Crawley to put down the catch at second slip. Potts did eventually get one in the wicket column when Kyle Jamieson hooked a bouncer high to Pope out at deep square leg.
Potts, Stone and Broad will be vying for one spot in the XI for the first Test, with Anderson, Robinson and Leach in possession. The consideration for Stokes and McCullum is who will offer the best point of difference as England seek to bring to an end a seven-match winless run in New Zealand and in turn register a first series win here since 2008.
On the face of it, Stone's ability to tip the speed gun into the 90s is the precisely the point of difference England would want, particularly with a pink Kookaburra ball on a batter-friendly pitch. England's only previous match at Mount Maunganui saw them lose by an innings and 65 runs after New Zealand posted 615 for 9.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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