Fast fillip for England as Steve Finn and Stuart Broad set to return for final ODI against New Zealand

After two weak batting displays, Ian Bell wants to see good scores that the bowlers can defend

Beleaguered England were offered crumbs of comfort today. Should matters work completely in their favour they may yet prove to be entire bakeries bursting with the bread of heaven.

Stuart Broad and Steve Finn, fast bowlers who have been missed recently like key components in a previously efficient machine, trained with the team for the first time in a week, took a full part in fielding drills and bowled off their long runs in the nets. Both may play in the final one-day international against New Zealand at Trent Bridge today, though Broad seems the likelier of the pair.

Looking a little further ahead it is heartening news for the Champions Trophy in which England start their campaign against Australia on Saturday. The evidence of recent days suggests that no Broad and no Finn may equate to no progress.

Their opponents in that opening match – the first of 26 between the sides up to the start of February – were not so blessed. Michael Clarke's chronic lower back complaint forced him to miss the side's second and final practice match against India as he had the first.

He will travel to London today for specialist treatment but he must now be a serious doubt for the match at Edgbaston. Clarke's back pain has plagued him throughout his career and the indications are that spasms are occurring more frequently.

England would doubtless prefer to play Australia at full strength but Clarke's absence would also make their task much easier. Without him, the batting order looks alarmingly brittle as was demonstrated when they were all out for 65.

The return of Broad and Finn would offer England a fresh perspective when they most need it after two heavy defeats against the Kiwis. Finn has been a handful in limited-overs cricket for more than a year and with signs that Broad is returning to his peak form their presence would unquestionably help.

England's preferred bowling quintet in one-day internationals is probably Jimmy Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Broad and Finn. They have appeared together in only four matches, of which England have lost none.

Swann may be rested today to allow James Tredwell, a solid performer when he has been called upon to fill in, a bowl in the middle. There may also be a debut for Boyd Rankin, the Ireland international who has now declared his hand for England, if it is thought unnecessary to risk one of Broad or Finn.

The batting line-up will be more perplexing. It must be tempting to change after two weak displays, but whoever plays today will definitely be there on Saturday. Thus, the selectors may yet stick with the present bunch of under-achievers in the hope that atonement is round the corner.

Ian Bell, one of the culprits in the two matches against New Zealand, said: "All of us feel in good form but we've done the hard yards and got out. In the last couple of years, people have gone on and got big runs which allow our bowling attack to defend good scores, or when we've chased, someone in the top four has had the responsibility to go through. Jonathan Trott did it two days ago but we need more of it.

"Chasing 360 you need maybe two guys getting hundreds, two or three with fifty-plus scores. That's not happened for a while and it's been frustrating but the guys still feel in pretty good touch."

The margins, it is true, are narrow but Bell insisted that England would not be changing a method that had worked for them hitherto. They would not be going back into their shells.

"English cricket, certainly in one-day form, has taken so many strides forward and we don't want to go backwards now," he said. "We want to be as positive as we can be."

New Zealand, ebullient after wins by five wickets and 86 runs, see this as the perfect preparation for the Champions Trophy. As Mitchell McClenaghan, one of their suddenly thrusting new kids on the block, put it: "We're a good side and we're really starting to click together. We're led well... I can see us doing this a lot more in future."

Lose today and England will be profoundly glad they are playing a team as hapless as Australia on Saturday.

Trent Bridge details

For third One-day International between England and New Zealand

Probable teams

England A N Cook (capt), I R Bell, I J L Trott, J E Root, E J G Morgan, J C Buttler (wkt), T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, J C Tredwell, W B Rankin, J M Anderson

New Zealand B B McCullum (capt), L Ronchi (wkt), M J Guptill, K S Williamson, L R P L Taylor, G D Elliott, J E C Franklin, N L McCullum, T G Southee, M J McClenaghan, K D Mills.

Umpires A Dar (Pak) and R Illingworth

TV 1.30-10pm, Sky Sports 1

Weather Dry and overcast throughout the afternoon. Max temp: 16C.

Odds England 8-13; N Zealand 13-10

The series so far

31 May (Lord's): NZ won by five wkts

2 Jun (Rose Bowl): NZ won by 86 runs

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power