Chris Woakes or Sam Curran is shaping up to be the final selection debate for England before the first Test against New Zealand next week.
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Joe Denly’s appearance as a substitute fielder on day two of England’s practice match in Whangarei one of toil as the New Zealand XI made 285 for four from 76 overs.
With Jimmy Anderson missing the tour, however, a seamer’s berth remains open. Woakes and Curran both played the final Ashes Test during the summer when Ben Stokes was unable to bowl because of a shoulder injury but one will be now squeezed out by the vice-captain’s return.
“I suppose there is one spot there, so it is up to everyone in the squad to put their hand up,” said the now bearded Woakes, having beaten the bat a couple of times but gone wicketless in 10 overs that cost 28 runs.
Having played four of the five Ashes Tests, he felt like the incumbent, Woakes answered: It is dangerous to place to be when it could go either way.
You can’t things for granted. Different circumstances changed the ball … I wouldn’t think my nose is ahead. I’ll just effort and make it as hard as possible.
He and Curran shared the new ball here as England’s attack was given a strong workout on a flat pitch. The Kookaburra speedily went soft and any swing was fleeting.
Curran, down to be rested after the Twenty20s but drafted in after Saqib Mahmood sustained a migraine, did strike in his second spell before tea when Jakob Bhula (61) missed one from around the wicket and finished with one for 33 from nine.
But with Woakes and Curran averaging in the low 20s at home yet 66 and 105 respectively on the road, it may come down to whether Root wants the former’s experience or the younger man’s left-arm angle.
More will become apparent when England name their XI for the three-day first-class match versus New Zealand A.
With Denly due to oust his Kent colleague Zak Crawley at No 3 despite a century for the 21-year-old.
Jonny Bairstow skipped at the end of the summer but kept on after the T20s as batting cover for Denly, is due to fly home at the start of the first Test on 21 November.
England’s bowlers got a good taste of potential situations for the series. The Finn Allen made a fine unbeaten 103 before retiring and Darren Gough.
The bowling consultant during this warm-up period studiously took notes. Jofra Archer stuck Ken McClure lbw before returning after tea to give Jos Buttler a catch down leg on his return behind the stumps.
Jack Leach sent down 15 overs, none for 62, Matt Parkinson struggled to control his length a touch amid 13 overs without a wicket.
England had previously batted on in the morning session before declaring on 376 for two. Root was the third retiree on an overnight score of 41, as Ollie Pope (31), Buttler (38*) and Stokes (30*) spent some time in the middle.
Buttler survived one chance when dropped on 17 off the left-arm spin of Theo van Woekam attempting the aerial route. Pope, down to bat No 6 in the Tests, perished when repeating this approach five balls later.
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