Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Black Caps suffer reality check

New Zealand’s suffered a reality check to their first test preparations after struggling on the second day of the warm-up match against the England Lions in Leicester.

England batsman Joe Root hits out during day two of the tour match between England Lions and New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images
England batsman Joe Root hits out during day two of the tour match between England Lions and New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's suffered a reality check to their first test preparations after struggling on the second day of the warm-up match against the England Lions in Leicester.

Lions captain Joe Root provided the principal resistance with his third first-class century in four innings. His 105 - compiled in front of the England management - took him past 500 first-class runs for the season. The only blight was a difficult slips chance on 23 off Doug Bracewell. Root took his side to 219 for two at stumps after New Zealand crumbled from 184 for three to be out for 285.

With Root expected to be included in the first test XI, he seized a psychological advantage over the visitors, despite averaging just 17.60 across three tests against New Zealand on the recent tour.

New Zealand lacked penetration with the ball, despite the return of strike bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult. It further reinforces the value of Neil Wagner toiling qualities when the test side is considered.

Southee had opener Varun Chopra caught in the slips for four but from there was little to cheer about. Opener Michael Carberry made 77 in a 182-run second wicket stand with Root. Carberry eventually swept a catch to mid-wicket off Bruce Martin. Boult struggled for rhythm with eight no-balls.

Earlier New Zealand lost their last seven wickets for 74 runs. Hamish Rutherford added 10 further runs before misjudging a single to mid-off to be run out for 126. Dean Brownlie showed the most mettle with an unbeaten 42.

Despite a largely fragile batting display, New Zealand could at least take solace that all but two of the presumed test top seven - Peter Fulton and Brendon McCullum being the exceptions - have had the opportunity to get their eye in with scores of 35 or more in at least one innings. Those individual scores now need to be worked into partnerships when the team heads to St John's Wood.

The England test side is expected to be announced today.

- Herald on Sunday

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