New Zealand vs England: Endless batting and twin balls feature in bizarre warm-ups

The visiting England side as well the New Zealand XI batsmen were allowed to bat twice in the warm-ups at Hamilton

All was not normal in the two warm-up matches between New Zealand XI and England at Seddon Park in Hamilton, conducted ahead of the Test series between hosts New Zealand and England, which starts in Auckland on March 22. To begin with, the matches were held on four consecutive days with the first two played under lights with a pink ball, while the remaining two days being contested with the conventional red ball.

In the floodlit game – played to provide genuine practice ahead of the first day-night Test to be played in the country at Eden Park in Auckland – the New Zealand XI included multiple national Test team names like Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Blundell and Doug Bracewell. They batted first and posted 376, an innings in which Latham, Raval, and Nicholls were allowed to bat twice on the first day itself.

The following day, when the visiting England side's chance to bat arrived, they ended at 319/9 with the match ending in a draw, but not before also seeing Mark Stoneman, Alastair Cook, James Vince, Joe Root, and Dawid Malan bat twice. In fact, England had lost all ten of their wickets for 200, but with these four batsmen at the crease again, they finished at 319. At one point, the scorecard actually read 222/11, 267/13 and then 319/14.

The fun, though, was not limited to those two days alone. With the arrival of the red ball for the next two days, the New Zealand XI had several new names. Again, they batted first for 90 overs on Day 1, which was today, but kept on batting even after the tenth wicket fell. As a result of rules stating that the teams would bat on alternate days and that they could keep on batting irrespective of wickets lost, the scorecard read 287/13 at the end of the day with England due to bat tomorrow.

The format of the warm-ups may sound bizarre, but at the same time, can be claimed to allow a fair chance to the entire squad, especially to that of the touring England team, to participate and have ideal Test match practice before the start of the actual series.

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