Bond and Tuffey make a quick impression

Worcestershire 270-9 dec v New Zealand XI

The news from New Road is that New Zealand's bowlers had just enough time to show that they are purposeful, penetrating and positively promising.

The news from New Road is that New Zealand's bowlers had just enough time to show that they are purposeful, penetrating and positively promising.

For the New Zealanders the big story was Shane Bond, their main fast man, who had been recovering from two stress fractures, which have kept him out of three successive Test series. He took 2 for 8 in six overs yesterday morning and bowled as if he has reached another significant stage in his recovery. He increased his pace from his first two spells on Friday and his new action looked smooth, trouble-free and even hinted at elegance.

The blossom was out but not the sun, but at least it was not bucketing with rain when play began at 10.45am. So far New Zealand have managed only a friendly day at Shenley, one session at Cambridge, and 50 overs on the first day of this game at Worcestershire. Just one day with the sun on their backs. Yesterday it was sweaters and thermal underwear.

But they are not short of cricket. Their tense series with South Africa ended only five weeks ago. The problem is that their front-line bowlers - Daniel Vettori apart - have no experience of English spring conditions. They need as much time in the middle as they can get, and the New Zealand selectors need space to sort out just who to chose for the first Test, which starts in 11 days. Potentially, they appear to have an embarrassment of riches, but they still have little idea of who shines brightest.

Before the drizzle set in at lunch, 26.4 overs had been bowled by Bond, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Martin, Jacob Oram and Vettori. Ben Smith had taken two fours from Oram's first two balls, then Tuffey and Bond took over and the runs dried up. The Maori Tuffey is tall and looks fierce, though the threat was diminished by the fact of his bowling a yard or so short. Bond, on the other hand, tucked Smith up with his first ball, and bowled faster than he had done so far on the tour, though he did have the keeper, Brendon McCullum diving about.

A sharp, rising ball caught the top of Kadeer Ali's bat and the catch spiralled slowly to Michael Papps at short square leg. The South African Andrew Hall totally misjudged the line, shouldered his bat, and looked back to see his off stump flat on the ground.

Bond has altered his action, bowling side-on rather than chest-on. He runs in quick and straight and the new action suggested new rhythm. New Zealand's management have been significantly cautious about Bond's chances for Lord's, but yesterday at New Road he bowled well enough to make them contemplate a change of mind.

Smith edged Tuffey twice for four where third slip would have caught him, but, on 92, he edged Tuffey finer, to first slip. Four wickets had fallen for 24 runs, two each to Bond and Tuffey, before they were replaced by Oram, Martin and Vettori. The tail treated them with uniform disdain before the rain came, and did not stop, even after Worcestershire's declaration. Martin was expensive as Nadeem Malik biffed his way to 39 not out, his highest first-class score, but it would be foolhardy to judge him on this spell.

Tom Moody, Worcestershire's Australian coach, slipped into the press box and reported he was impressed by what he had seen, and expected a close and rewarding series. He is also hoping for a rewarding benefit.

Among his patrons are the Governor of the Bank of England and Margaret Thatcher. Help or hindrance? Discuss.

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