New Zealand may, in the eyes of England captain Michael Vaughan, be a “workmanlike” side but the hosts are set for another tough examination of their credentials at Old Trafford.
This three-match series is all square ahead of the start of the second Test today after New Zealand arguably had the better of a draw at Lord’s.
Sent into bat in overcast conditions before collapsing to 104 for five, the Black Caps rallied to 277 all out thanks mainly to Brendon McCullum’s run-a-ball 97.
They then restricted England, who had far better weather to bat in, to a first innings lead of just 42 with captain Daniel Vettori leading from the front with five wickets.
And they ultimately had little difficulty in playing out a draw at Lord’s on the final day as all-rounder Jacob Oram compiled a splendid hundred.
“Workmanlike” might be something of a backhanded compliment, and one Vettori laughed off at Lord’s, but, the latter stages of Vaughan’s hundred apart, the description might equally have applied to England’s first Test display
“Workmanlike, yeah, but having said that Jacob’s and Brendon’s innings showed a little bit of style and class as well,” John Bracewell, New Zealand’s coach, told reporters on Wednesday.
“I certainly don’t mind that tag and crafting out results — there is nothing wrong with a good work ethic,” Bracewell said.
McCullum showed plenty of grit in batting again on Monday’s final day after X-rays showed no break to the left forearm struck such a painful blow by England fast bowler Stuart Broad it forced the batsman to retire hurt.
The wicket-keeper is expected to be fit for the second Test.
Ryan Sidebottom, who took six wickets at Lord’s to go with the 24 he managed during England’s 2-1 Test series win in New Zealand in March has been pinpointed by Vettori as the man his batsmen must see off in Manchester.
“He’s a left-armer who bowls at over 140kph and swings it a lot,” Vettori said. “That makes your two right-arm outswing bowlers [James Anderson and Broad] even more dangerous because they offer that difference.”
“Throw Monty Panesar in, who’s a very good left-arm spinner, and you have to say that’s a well-rounded attack.” he said.
England are set to name an unchanged side at Old Trafford with Hampshire fast bowler Chris Tremlett unlikely to get into the team after making the squad.
New Zealand are also likely to field the same team although Tim Southee did miss practice on Wednesday following a bout of sickness.