Rain ruins England warm-up
England's first Twenty20 warm-up game against a New Zealand XI lasted just 9.1 overs before it was washed out by rain at Whangarei’s Cobham Oval - and is scheduled to take place tomorrow instead.
Stuart Broad was fit to lead his team, as he continues his recovery from a bruised heel, but managed just seven deliveries before rain intervened terminally.
Having won the toss, Broad took the new ball in company with Steven Finn, who was crashed for two off-side fours in his first over by Hamish Rutherford and then a six over cover in his next.
The captain fared better but gave himself just one over with the new ball, and his introduction of Chris Woakes brought Rutherford's downfall for 21 when he mistimed an attempted pull and fell to a very good catch by Broad running back at wide mid-on.
Rutherford's fellow opener Anton Devcich and Tom Latham continued to enjoy a pitch of decent pace, in another all left-handed partnership which took the score to 70 for one by the time rain ended proceedings. Devcich made 22 and Latham 23.
The match will be restaged at the same venue tomorrow, from 2pm local time. The other fixture between the teams remains on Wednesday.
Former New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor, who was due to be next batsman in today, will not be involved tomorrow or on Wednesday.
The destructive right-hander was last week picked in this squad and for the limited-overs internationals that follow. But New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis explained that Taylor was always planning to feature only in the first of the tour matches and is set to return home to Hamilton tomorrow.
"Ross is nipping off back home, to pack some stuff up before the tour starts, and then he'll join the Black Caps," Ellis said. "Neil Broom is here, so I imagine he'll be a direct replacement."
Taylor has mended his broken working relationship with New Zealand coach Mike Hesson, it appears - certainly sufficiently for him to be selected again, having sat out his country's recent tour of South Africa after losing the captaincy.
He will return under the leadership of Brendon McCullum, and Ellis at least senses a more harmonious future ahead.
"It's always good to have 'Rosco' around. He's got a big smile on his face, and he's a happy character," he added.
"I think everyone has combined now to move forward and attack this series as a combined unit. I definitely get that feeling."
Ellis, another happy character, was pleased with what he saw from his top three today.
"I think we did pretty well," he said. "We looked to take them on; Hamish Rutherford came out and played very positively.
"The message was not to take a step back out there, and he certainly did that."
Ellis expects Rutherford, today’s only man out, to be unfazed by that minor setback when he gets his second chance against an international attack tomorrow.
"He's a simple boy and is the type who doesn't delve too deeply into things, so I think he'll just go out there again and play the ball on its merits," Ellis added.
"I suppose England will have a little chat, having seen him for the first time... but, whatever plan they have, I'm sure he'll be able to counter."
Stuart Meaker was unavailable for today’s game due to a neck strain. Fellow seamer James Harris has therefore been called up to England’s T20 squad.