England ran into unexpected snags as New Zealand Test discard Tom Blundell and unheralded tailender Kyle Jamieson rewrote the script on day one of the pink-ball warm-up match at Seddon Park.
The tourists’ heavyweight attack, replete with James Anderson and Stuart Broad but minus Test regulars Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes with minor injury niggles, had no answer as Blundell (131) and Jamieson (101) engineered a New Zealand XI’s remarkable recovery from 30 for five to 358 for eight.
In a fixture billed as little more than middle practice, with England pre-determined to bowl throughout the first day and bat on the second, the consequences of a lop-sided scorecard were decidedly limited.
Nonetheless, after Blundell shared stands of 73 with Doug Bracewell and then 163 in 32 overs with Jamieson, it became increasingly clear from the demeanour of Anderson especially that he was far from amused by the unforeseen turn of events.
For Blundell, omitted from the Test squad New Zealand Cricket announced before start of play to face England next week, this became a day to remember – and so too Jamieson, whose brief first-class career to date features no half-century and a top score of 40 not out in 20 innings.
It all started so well for England.
They had four wickets inside the first hour as the top five batsmen mustered just 22 runs between them.
An assortment of caught-behind departures accounted for three of them, Test pair Tom Latham and Jeet Raval undone respectively by Anderson and Broad – whose dismissal of the left-hander with his innocuous first delivery after replacing Mark Wood came from an edged cut.
Anderson then pinned Martin Guptill lbw, and Colin de Grandhomme nicked another one behind in Wood’s second spell.
Blundell took guard at 15 for four but never looked troubled from the outset, ably assisted by Bracewell until he shouldered arms and lost his off-bail straight after tea.
That was to be England’s only success of the middle session, Blundell’s low-risk accumulation moving up a gear with some easier pickings as Joe Root used eight different bowlers – and scoring opportunities arrived with greater regularity from the medium-pace of James Vince, among others.
Jamieson grew in confidence too, hooking and driving 14 in one over from Wood.
With no breakthrough forthcoming under lights either, until Blundell retired out after hitting 21 fours off 194 balls and his big-hitting junior partner followed suit once he also had three-figures, there was a decidedly chastening element to the pre-Test work-out England had planned here.
– Ex-Australia leg-spinner Stuart MacGill is set to arrive on Thursday to work with England’s slow bowlers over the next week in preparation for the first Test in Auckland.