England warm-up match washed out

Rain sees just 9.1 overs of T20 match played

England will face a New Zealand XI - minus Ross Taylor - in back-to-back Twenty20 warm-up matches, after today's first attempt was washed out.

The tourists were restricted to 9.1 overs in the field at the Cobham Oval, where their opponents raced to 70 for one before the bad weather returned in Whangarei to end proceedings.

A contingency was quickly hatched to reconvene at the same venue tomorrow, 1400 start local time, and then play the second of two scheduled fixtures as originally planned 24 hours later.

That, of course, is dependent on the forecast for a clearance in the weather proving accurate from tomorrow lunchtime onwards.

But one man who will not be involved, whatever the conditions, is former New Zealand captain Taylor.

The destructive batsman was last week picked in this squad and also for the three Twenty20s and three one-day internationals to follow this month.

But New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis explained that Taylor was always planning to feature only in the first of the tour matches and is set to return home to Hamilton tomorrow.

England will therefore not after all have the opportunity to bowl against him before the start of the international programme, next weekend.

"Ross is nipping off back home, to pack some stuff up before the tour starts, and then he'll join the Black Caps," Ellis said.

"Neil Broom is here, so I imagine he'll be a direct replacement."

Taylor has mended his broken working relationship with New Zealand coach Mike Hesson, it appears - certainly sufficiently for him to be selected again, having sat out his country's recent tour of South Africa after losing the captaincy.

He will return under the leadership of Brendon McCullum, and Ellis at least senses a more harmonious future ahead.

"It's always good to have 'Rosco' around. He's got a big smile on his face, and he's a happy character," he said.

"I think everyone has combined now to move forward and attack this series as a combined unit. I definitely get that feeling."

In what little play was possible before the rain returned today, there was some encouragement for the hosts - and something for England to work on.

Young opener Hamish Rutherford, also picked in New Zealand's Twenty20 squad for the first time, demonstrated the reasons for that with some clean striking against Steven Finn in particular.

Two more left-handers, Anton Devcich and Tom Latham, also showed their liking for a pitch of decent pace - and Ellis was pleased with what he saw from his top three.

"I think we did pretty well," he said.

"We looked to take them on; Hamish Rutherford came out and played very positively.

"The message was not to take a step back out there, and he certainly did that."

For England, Stuart Broad was fit enough as he continues his recovery from a bruised heel to lead his team and open the bowling alongside Finn.

It was first change Chris Woakes, though, who was responsible for England's only success - Rutherford mis-pulling the seamer's first ball to be well caught by Broad running back at wide mid-on.

Ellis expects Rutherford to be unfazed by that minor setback when he gets his second chance against an international attack tomorrow.

"He's a simple boy and is the type who doesn't delve too deeply into things, so I think he'll just go out there again and play the ball on its merits," Ellis said.

"I suppose England will have a little chat, having seen him for the first time... but, whatever plan they have, I'm sure he'll be able to counter."

:: England have called up uncapped seamer James Harris as Twenty20 cover for Stuart Meaker.

Meaker was unavailable for selection for today's opening warm-up match because of a neck strain.

Harris, already part of England's squad for the forthcoming three-match one-day international series, will therefore fly to New Zealand early.

PA

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