Broad pleased with progress
Stuart Broad feels in good shape as he presses for a Test recall ahead of the three-game series with New Zealand, beginning next week.
The seamer bowled 15 economical overs today as England limited a New Zealand XI to 224 for six in reply to 426 all out on day two of four at the Queenstown Events Centre.
Broad made one breakthrough, having number three Carl Cachopa cheaply caught at slip, his maiden first-class wicket of a winter hampered by a heel injury.
Going wicketless in the first two Tests versus India saw Broad lose his place for the third, and his left heel problem ruled him out of the fourth and final match as well as the limited-overs internationals that followed.
Broad returned with a bang this month, taking a Twenty20-best 4-24 in the opening international of this tour and he ended the six limited-overs fixtures against New Zealand with 11 wickets.
The 26-year-old was upbeat after stumps today, saying: “My action feels really nice at the moment. I feel like I’m hitting the crease hard and getting some good bounce.
“I felt pretty unlucky not to pick up a wicket with that new ball. I had a few plays-and-misses and it nipped around a little bit.”
Broad expects to send down many more overs in the rest of this contest and hopes to do likewise in the Tests that follow.
“I’ll sleep well tonight,” he added. “It always takes a bit of getting used to but I got through the spells pretty well; it’s an encouraging sign.
“The build-up throughout this tour has been really good for me, starting with Twenty20 cricket, going into the one-day format - and now we have pretty much four back-to-back games.
“So the workload is going to be tough. But you just need to manage that well, and I feel like I’m doing that at the moment.
“That’s why you play these games. You want time in the field; you want to be able to bowl back-to-back spells, but also you want to win the games.”
Ian Bell this morning topped up his overnight 127 to 158 before England were dismissed for an impressive 426 on a pitch that yesterday favoured seam bowlers.
Today there was diminishing assistance for seamers, and home opening batsman Hamish Rutherford took advantage with 90 to seemingly pencil himself in for a Test debut next week.
Broad, leading an attack that principally featured Graham Onions, Chris Woakes and Graeme Swann, was pleased with the tourists’ effort in the field.
“As a bowling unit, I think we’re pretty happy with how the day has gone,” he said.
“We maybe could have forced the issue a little bit from 35 to 60 overs, where the ball didn’t do a huge amount for us. But we kept it pretty tight and at the end of the day, six wickets from 74 overs you’d take against a pretty good side.
“I think the wicket changed quite a bit throughout the afternoon. In the first two hours, there was little bit of seam there with the dampness. But once the sun was on the wicket, it played pretty true throughout the day.”
Part-time seamer Jonathan Trott chipped in to strangle Test regular Dean Brownlie down leg for 63 in the day’s penultimate over, and Swann capitalised by having Jimmy Neesham lbw for nought to leave England on top.
“We’re delighted,” Broad added. “We’ve got the new ball just around the corner, so we’re in a decent position in this game.
“Getting 430 was a pretty good effort on a wicket that seamed pretty much all day yesterday and it looks like - as expected - it’s going to flatten out a little bit. So it’s important we get those four wickets in the next 80 runs.”
Rutherford, who now seems set to open the batting in the opening Test alongside Peter Fulton, at one stage lost a contact lens during his 149-ball innings.
Asked if it bothered him, he replied: “Very much so - it went up to my brain somewhere at one point.
“I was struggling to see it. There’s been an issue over the last month, so I need to get it sorted ASAP. It came back down again. But I don’t have spare ones here, so I need to sort it out.”