x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

New Zealand v England: Finn and Anderson rested and ready to go

England rested pace bowlers James Anderson and Steven Finn for the warm-up matches so they will be ready for the Test series with New Zealand while spinner Martin set to debut for the hosts.

England cricket team player James Anderson, right, throws a ball to a team trainer during a cricket training session at the University Oval in Dunedin on Monday. England will play New Zealand in a three-Test series starting Wednesday. David Gray / Reuters
England cricket team player James Anderson, right, throws a ball to a team trainer during a cricket training session at the University Oval in Dunedin on Monday. England will play New Zealand in a three-Test series starting Wednesday. David Gray / Reuters

The England pace bowlers James Anderson and Steven Finn are likely to be crucial combatants in the Test series against New Zealand when the first of three matches begins at the University Oval in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Both were rested in the four-day match against a New Zealand XI, which the hosts won by three wickets, but proved destructive in the limited-overs series before the Tests. Apart from the opening one-day match, which New Zealand won, Anderson and Finn provided a masterclass in hostile fast bowling, giving the New Zealand batsmen little to hit on the small grounds while creating pressure and taking wickets.

Anderson's controlled seam bowling and the swing he extracted created doubt for New Zealand's batsmen, while Finn bowled short of a length and was menacingly accurate at top pace.

As such, the duo, to be supported by Stuart Broad and possibly one of Graham Onions or Chris Woakes, should prove a headache for New Zealand's batsmen, whose frailties against elite fast bowling were ruthlessly exposed by the South Africa attack earlier this year. Brendon McCullum's side slumped to innings defeats in both Tests on their tour of South Africa, and were all out for just 45 in Cape Town.

New Zealand's batsmen have also had trouble occupying the crease for long periods to tire out opposing attacks, while giving their own bowlers a rest.

Even century-making batsmen have scored their runs in a hurry and not lingered to post truly big scores to anchor the innings.

The Mike Hesson-coached side will also bring a rejigged top order to Dunedin, with the recalled Peter Fulton expected to partner the debutant Hamish Rutherford.

The left arm spinner Bruce Martin is also expected to make his debut at the age of 32, while the all-rounder Doug Bracewell will undergo a late fitness test after he cut his foot on a glass while clearing up following a house party.

While the England team director Andy Flower bemoaned a "sloppy" defeat in the four-day tour match, which saw the top order struggle, the visitors have enjoyed a relaxed build-up, marvelling at coastal Queenstown's natural beauty and undertaking touristy excursions.

English media outlets have clamoured for 22-year-old Joe Root to earn his second Test cap after an impressive 73 on debut against India in Nagpur, but Flower gave strong backing to the opener Nick Compton, who played in all four Tests in India, albeit without confirming his spot in Dunedin.

"You've got to remember Joe Root has played one Test match," Flower said after the Queenstown warm-up. "I think everyone should keep a little calm about his prospects."

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