Ian Bell hits ton as England signal contentment in warm-up against New Zealand XI

England 357 for 7

England offered a significant guide to their intentions for the Test series against New Zealand and beyond today. By selecting Nick Compton as opening batsman ahead of Joe Root in their only tour match the visitors appeared to confirm their contentment with the status quo.

But the strategy was complicated as the day unfolded against a New Zealand XI in the breathtakingly splendid setting beneath the mountain range appositely known as the Remarkables.

Compton made an uncertain 21 at the start of the first day while Root assembled a composed, unfussy 49. It was no real surprise when Compton, having played with his usual diligence, edged a lifting ball behind and it was remarkable indeed when Root had his off stump removed shortly after tea.

England finished the first day on 357 for seven on a pitch that provided encouragement to seam bowlers throughout. Ian Bell was the main contributor, starting circumspectly and ending in a state of pristine fluency. His 127 not out from 196 balls contained 18 fours, only four of which came in the first 50.

Alastair Cook, the captain, made 60 in characteristic style leaving nothing to chance and thus giving himself every opportunity of being honed in the longer game after six weeks of the shorter stuff.

However, the main issues at stake in the match involved Root and Compton, and Stuart Broad and Graham Onions, who are both in contention for the third seamer’s spot in the team for the First Test which begins in Dunedin next Wednesday.

Broad’s recent injury woes complemented by a loss of spark make Onions a viable contender if he can recapture the zest he shows for Durham.

Compton initially won and held the vacant opening batsman’s berth alongside Cook ahead of Root in India late last year and by picking him today it was clearly deemed to be his to lose. However, Root has burst on to the international scene like a meteor in the past two months.

His maiden Test innings of 73 in Nagpur — in a match nobody expected him to play — was followed by a litany of outstanding contributions in one-day internationals where his lowest score in seven innings is 28 not out and his average is 82.

 



While Compton by no means failed in his four Tests in India, nor was he an outrageous success conveying the impression he was here to stay.  It was possible that England would decide that Root, at 22, was the man for the present as well as future and that Compton, at 29, had done his bit.

But by picking Compton now, they are also giving him the opportunity to play against Australia in two Ashes series later in the year which is a whole different ball game.

Short of match practice today, he could be forgiven the occasional play and miss against the new ball.

He demonstrated his chief virtues, patience and the willingness to leave the ball, which will have pleased his supporters. But after batting for a little under an hour he edged behind.

When Root dug in later, playing sensibly and never missing an opportunity to hit the bad ball, it offered pause for thought at least. Root and Bell put on 97 for the fifth wicket, much needed runs after England were 124 for four.

After Compton went neither Jonathan Trott nor Kevin Pietersen detained the New Zealanders for long. Trott was barely out of the blocks before he also edged Jimmy Neesham behind.

Pietersen was skittish throughout his innings of 35 minutes. He played shots that were not really suitable and was needlessly adventurous.

But he invariably treats warm-up matches in a dismissive fashion and it has little bearing on the three Tests which follow. He was caught at second slip for 14 after flashing at a wide one, also from Neesham.

Cook was out, also caught behind soon after lunch before Root and

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works