The second match of the England tour starts in Worcestershire’s picturesque New Road tonight NZ time.
Martin Guptill, who missed the first warm up v Somerset with injury is fit and ready to take his place in the side: “I’m taking full part in training today and I should be right for tomorrow’s game,” he said.
Guptill was back at his county side Derbyshire this season, getting a couple of early season matches under his belt as he looks to regain a Test spot. He continued his World Cup form on, belting 227 at a good clip against Gloucestershire in the county championship, which has set him up well for the tour: “Coming and playing at Derbyshire before the Test series is probably the best preparation I could have asked for. I’m pretty thankful to Derbyshire for helping me get a couple of games under my belt.”
The mood in the camp is good going into this match, with players set to join the team from India in drips and drabs over the next day or two.
“We’re gelling well as a team and everyone’s enjoying each other’s company, there’s a lot of confidence going through the group, and there’s confidence in the team and in individuals – that’s coming through into our results and our cricket.
“These warm ups are pretty key, a lot of guys haven’t played much in England and against the Duke ball, it’s a good opportunity for those guys to get out there and face it and get into the English conditions before getting into the real stuff.
The first Test at Lord’s on 21 May signals the start of a frantic period of play with two Tests, five one dayers and a Twenty20 match scheduled for just over six weeks, not that Guptill is phased.
“It’s hard on the body, but as professional cricketers that’s our job and we have to find a way to get though it. It’s quite good for batters just being able to keep that momentum you have from the previous innings if you’ve scored runs, or if you’re not quite successful you’ve got another opportunity in a few days time.”
After the Test series loss in the 2013 tour, everyone is very clear that a series win is the goal. The latest Test rankings have the BLACKCAPS in third, two points ahead of England in fifth – there’s not a lot of margin for error.
“Success would be a series win, we’ve come over here to win, not to compete. If we can if do our things well like we have done over the last couple of years, we’re going to get the results we want. The guys have played some great Test cricket over the last couple of years and the way Brendon’s leading us from the front and showing confidence in every player is really helping us perform on the international stage,” said Guptill.
The match (which is not a first class affair due to possible swapping of the playing XI), starts at 10PM tonight, and is scheduled for four days.