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

PROMOTED VIDEO
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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links