Harry Brook leads England demolition job in New Zealand tour warm-up game
It never stops. Another day, another England demolition job as the touring side piled on 465 in 69 overs against a New Zealand XI.
Harry Brook top scored with 97 off 71 balls whilst there were half-centuries for Dan Lawrence (85 off 55), Joe Root (77 off 69) and Ben Foakes (57 off 74) as England cantered their way through the first half of the day before galloping their way through the second.
It has been a low key start to proceedings in New Zealand, with England initially scheduled to play two, two-day warm-up matches. One with a pink-ball and one with a red, as they prepare for a day-night Test in Mount Maunganui before a traditional daytime fixture in Wellington.
The second of those warm-up games has been cancelled however, with England deeming the one match, combined with a three-day training camp and four-day golf trip in Queenstown that preceded it, to be ample preparation.
As a result, this encounter at Seddon Park isn’t so much a competitive fixture as a trading of favours. You bowl at us for a day and then we’ll bowl at you. Captain Ben Stokes, considering himself to be in a good place, has opted to sit it out (just as he did for the warm-up before Pakistan) with Ollie Pope taking the reins.
Nevertheless, there was plenty of entertainment for the hundred or so spectators that filtered in throughout the day, with Brook at one stage hitting five consecutive sixes, Root unveiling his trademark reverse scoop and Lawrence peppering the neighbouring roads with a flurry of sixes.
“It was good,” Brook said at the close. “I kind of went about it a bit like my ODI stuff to be honest.
“I felt under a little bit of pressure to score in my own head but it was fun. Because I’ve been playing white-ball and coming back into this after having a little bit of a break my movements weren’t as good as I wanted but I was striking the ball well.”
Of most use to England was the presence of Kyle Jamieson in the opposition who claimed three wickets across the day. One of the best bowlers in the world, Jamieson is playing as part of his rehabilitation and is slated to play in one, but not both, of the upcoming Tests.
“It was nice to get practice against Kyle Jamieson because I’d never faced him before,” Brook said. “I’ve [also] only played one pink-ball game, I think. To get some practice against the pink ball and one of their premier bowlers was good. Hopefully I can take the way I batted out there into the Test.
“We’ll put pressure on them. Why would we change? We’ve been outstanding in the last 10 games, so there’s nothing to change.”
And change England did not. With Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett opening proceedings, Duckett raced to 23 off 13 before edging behind to a fine Jamieson delivery to finish on 32 off 28. Whilst Crawley was clean bowled attempting a third booming drive for 17.
Pope fell for 26 as he chipped to midwicket and the game briefly appeared to be in the balance at 95 for three after 16 overs.
But from that point onwards, the class of Root, Brook and then Lawrence won out. England reached the first break of the day at 169 for three, before putting their foot down in brutal fashion in the second session with 206 runs scored in 26 overs. Brook’s innings only came to an end as he attempted a tenth sixth of his innings and was caught on the third man boundary, whilst Lawrence motored to a 37-ball fifty.
With Lawrence departing early after the dinner break, the night-time session had threatened to settle down into a “normal” cricketing affair. But Will Jacks soon made amends for that with consecutive sixes before Stuart Broad contributed with a cameo of 24 off 15 balls.
Ollie Robinson was the final wicket to fall as England finished their days batting all-out for 465. Twenty overs were still scheduled to remain in the day but enough was considered enough. This England team is all about feel. And all evidence points to England feeling pretty good right now. And why wouldn’t they?