Broad fitness provides positive in loss

Stuart Broad has shown encouraging form in England's warm-up matches

Stuart Broad has shown encouraging form in England's warm-up matches

First published in National Sport News © by

England headed south for Auckland on Wednesday disappointed to have lost their final warm-up match but encouraged too by a clutch of impressive individual performances at the Cobham Oval.

Stuart Broad's second three-wicket return in as many days brought him combined figures of six for 46 after one comfortable win and then Wednesday's narrow three-wicket defeat against a New Zealand XI.

England's Twenty20 captain has therefore done as much as reasonably could be expected to prove form and fitness, on his return after the heel injury which cut short his Test tour of India before Christmas.

Broad also produced an athletic catch to see off danger man Colin Munro as England unexpectedly narrowed the margins and, from an unpromising position, took the outcome to the last ball before their hosts overhauled 170 for five with three wickets in hand.

Tom Latham's career-best 64 helped England's opponents past a par total, which owed most to more clean and inventive striking from Eoin Morgan (51no) and Jos Buttler (51).

In a near action replay of the tourists' first batting performance at the same venue 24 hours earlier, the middle-order pair were the most telling contributors after a solid but unspectacular start above them.

There were two differences on Wednesday, though.

First, it was Michael Lumb rather than Luke Wright who was the pick of the top three - following Tuesday's 25 with 45. More significantly, despite Broad's best efforts and a tidy spell too from Samit Patel, this time England's bowlers were unable to defend a total - and they will therefore begin a three-match series against New Zealand on Saturday with a mixed report from their warm-up campaign.

Lumb, however, took issue with the suggestion that England's attack leaked too many runs.

"I wouldn't say we lost it," he said. "The nature of this game is guys can play well, and I thought they did. We dragged it back to take it deep and get that close. You've got to give them a bit of credit. I think it was a good score. But one of their guys got in and batted really well."

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