Saturday, 2 March 2013

England undercooked?

England lost their first warm up game for seven years today at the wonderful ground in Queenstown, against a New Zealand XI. One or two problems came to the surface during the game, and has brought concerns not only from us but from the cricket journalists that follow us around the world.

Broad...number one problem

Number one problem is our third seamer. Stuart Broad for months now in the longer format of the game has been caned like Max Moseley on a Saturday night, whilst Graham Onions, a man we thought was born for wickets in New Zealand, was like Stella Artois...reassuringly expensive.

In fact, it was a most un New Zealand like wicket. In a country where the climate in Auckland in the north is hot and warm, and in Invercargill in the far south, more like Inverness, playing a game in the south island you'd think the track would be a slow old dog. Instead this one had pace, carry and a bit of bounce. In fact, numerous English players got out to the short ball and the need to acclimatise after playing on the slow, low ones in India, is paramount before the first Test starts later this week.

The mountains shielding one end of the ground are known as 'The Remarkables' and Mike Selvey brilliantly christened the other end, 'The Unremarkables'. The only thing unremarkable about this performance was the amount of England cricketers who came into the game undercooked.

The view from the 'Unremarkables' end

Pietersen has always been poor in these warm up games, and apart from a beautiful hundred from Ian Bell and a decent knock from Matt Prior, the batting was nothing to write home about. Swann had a decent knock but the likes of Broad who has been poor for a while is a serious concern. Another concern for England is Nick Compton, who gets good starts but doesn't kick on. An opening bat will get plenty of decent deliveries in his career, so there will always be the odd low score, but once they have got to twenty or thirty, it is time to cash in and go big. Compton needs to learn to do this, and quickly.

Jonathan Trott was another who had a poor game, and the whining of the Warwickshire man as he had a huge tantrum walking off was almost as loud as those from the jets which took off at the side of this unusual venue.

Wagner bowled beautifully for New Zealand and will add to his handful of Test caps no doubt. He will join Andrew Strauss and Dean Elgar as modern day cricketers who share their names with famous composers. Gillespie and Fellatio Watling also had decent games for the hosts.

Neil Wagner...ran rings around England's batting

Maybe we have under estimated New Zealand? We may have done in these pages too and this series will be closer than people think? Maybe England will get better as the series goes on, such as the one in the first leg of the winter programme? Maybe having Anderson and Finn back for the Tests will sort England, or more to the point the New Zealand top order, out?

A lot of questions have been posed and whilst this was a wake up call for England, it wasn't a massive calamity and if they are going to have a bad one, then it is best to get it out of the way now.

Let's just hope it was a one off though, hey?

1 comment:

  1. Anderson and Finn will make a huge difference. But how long will they persist with Broad? Operating at about 80mph and offering little with the bat, he's been a weak link for some time now. Woakes has been decent of late, does more with the ball and with Broad seemingly incapable of scoring a run in test matches, he's got to be worth a shout. What the England attack really lacks is serious pace. Meaker doesn't bat well enough to replace Broad but would add some much needed gas to our attack. Either way, our best XI should be too much for the Kiwis, but tougher tests lie ahead...