The second day of England’s two days with the pink ball in Hamilton did not go that well for the batsmen. England lost 14 wickets in the day and were still unable to match the New Zealand XI total. Only Liam Livingstone really impressed, although Alastair Cook looked in decent order. Here are a few talking points from the day.
Stoneman’s bad day
Mark Stoneman has had more productive days with the bat. There wasn’t much he could do about his first dismissal, an excellent delivery from Seth Rance which bounced and angled across him, jagging from around leg stump. But in his second innings of the day he will regret the shot selection, trying to pull a ball from outside off and lobbing a catch to mid-on. Stoneman has already spoken about the pressure he’ll be under this series, he’ll hope for a decent score against red ball in the next two days, although there is no other opener in the squad.
The Vince paradox
Edging behind the wicket has become as much of a trademark for James Vince as the cover drive. One followed the other in the space of two balls here, although there was a variance on the theme. He played a perfect cover drive off Rance then next ball tried to leave the delivery and gave a catch to Tom Blundell. In his second chance at the crease he played solidly for his 31 – producing one of the shots of the day when he drove Nathan Smith through the covers off the back foot – only to miss a big full toss from Rance inside the final half hour to be lbw. It could well have been swinging down the leg side.
Driving without due care and attention
Tim Southee and Trent Boult won’t have minded how England’s middle went about things. Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali were all dismissed by expansive drives – Cook had also dragged one into his stumps – and there was a concerning looseness about the strokeplay, even given all the caveats around this match. With the pink ball at Eden Park there is likely to be periods where some circumspection is called for. In Southee and Boult there are two fine exponents of swing in the opposition.
Livingstone a lone success
At the start of these practice days, Liam Livingstone was considered the least likely of this squad – aside from reserve keeper Ben Foakes – to have a chance of playing in Auckland. He was the spare batsman, having replaced Gary Ballance in one of the token changes after the Ashes. But he was head and shoulders above most of the other batting until Joe Root’s late half-century. He struck the ball cleanly and confidently, picking the right the delivery to attack and, though he played aggressively, did not offer a chance until the wild flat-footed drive early in the night session, 12 short of three figures. Occasionally he flexed his left ankle, the one he injured in the Caribbean last month, which is still causing a little discomfort.
It was confirmed that Ben Stokes had received an injection in his back earlier this week. He was said to be responding well, but would not bowl on Friday in England’s red-ball fielding stint, although it was hoped he would be able to bat on Saturday. Whether he fields remains to be seen – he could just be in the squad, rather than the XI. There appears to be an increasing possibility that Stokes will be considered as a batsman only for the first Test. Chris Woakes (hamstring), Craig Overton (quad) and Mason Crane (back) are expected to be able to take full part in the second two days.