Key expects his hopefuls to give Kiwis stern test

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The Independent Online

Robert Key will today lead an England Lions side attempting to pursue personal agendas in front of the selectors as they try to undermine New Zealand's build-up to the opening Test in a four-day warm-up game at the Rose Bowl.

But despite the fact the players are effectively rivals for recognition, Key believes it can only be a good thing. "If I've got 10 other guys trying to get as many runs and wickets as they can then that's going to make my job much easier as captain," said Key.

It is a golden opportunity for Key, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara to push their claims should England's top order continue to mis-fire. The same applies to Matthew Hoggard, who has claimed 10 wickets in two first-class matches, and Chris Tremlett. Supporting them will be Durham seamer Graham Onions, regarded by many as the next in line, and Gloucestershire's Steve Kirby, while Graeme Swann and exciting Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid will be competing to provide another slow bowling option.

New Zealand are set to play a strong side in their last game before next Thursday's first Test.