Harry Brook hits five consecutive sixes – plus three other things you missed from New Zealand XI v England
England continued where they left off in Pakistan by batting at breakneck speed with Harry Brook leading the way.
Brook hit nine sixes - five of them in a row - as England scored at more than seven an over against a New Zealand XI in their only innings before the first Test.
Here’s the four key things you may have missed overnight.
Brooks picks up where he left off
Red, white or pink, it does not matter to Harry Brook. He treats each coloured ball the same at the moment by hitting it as hard as possible.
Brook started the New Zealand tour where he left off in Pakistan with an effortless 97 off 71 balls - including five sixes a row off leg spinner Adithya Ashok - before admitting he thought he was struggling at the crease.
If this is him having difficulty with his timing, then it bodes well for England who warmed up for the first Test by bullying some inexperienced bowlers, compiling 465 all out at 6.7 an over with 72 boundaries, 17 of them sixes.
Brook supplied nine of them, in the process putting cars on the road next to the ground in danger as he latched on anything dropped short. It was all achieved without Ben Stokes too, the England captain deciding to miss the only warm-up before the first Test, happy to just net instead.
Tour warm-up matches have become anachronistic in the T20 era. There is no attempt to play a proper match anymore. England had 20 overs still at their disposal when they were bowled out but instead of having a go under the lights and preparing for a match situation that could arise in the first Test next week, they decided instead that play should be called off and they will come back on Thursday for a bowling day.
The only challenge was facing Kyle Jamieson, who warmed up for the first Test with three for 65 and was a class above anyone else, which will have pleased Tim Southee, the New Zealand skipper, who popped in to watch his new ball partner bowl in his first match since last summer at Trent Bridge.
Brook a clear disciple of ‘Bazball’
Brook is emerging as the real triumph of the Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes era and in such a short space of time has graduated from squad player to certain pick giving England a headache over how to shoehorn Jonny Bairstow back in the side for the Ashes. He has barely stopped since the summer with two tours to Pakistan, a World Cup win and an ODI series in South Africa as well as a £1.3m IPL windfall.
He skipped the South Africa franchise tournament to grab a few days in his new house. “That month was massive, just to be able to spend some time with the family and relax and not really touch a cricket bat was good. Hopefully I can come back this year in full flow and dominate.”
There is a bit of both McCullum and Stokes in Brook. Like them, he makes batting look easy and uncomplicated but his cricket brain should not be underestimated. “I think I’ve got a little bit stronger so I feel like I’m hitting the ball a bit harder. Whether that’s just because I’ve been given the freedom to go out and play in a positive way and take the match on or I’ve just got stronger I’m not sure but I just feel like I’m hitting the ball a lot harder than I was before. I’m going to bat the way that I have been doing and the way the team wants everyone to bat. We’ll put pressure on them. Why would we change? We’ve been outstanding in the last 10 games, so there’s nothing to change.”
Brook not the only standout
Brook felt he was still batting in one-day mode in Hamilton, although it is hard to tell the difference between that and how England play Test cricket now anyway. They treated the New Zealand XI attack brutally, Brook top scoring and Dan Lawrence, with 85 off 55 balls, Joe Root (77 off 69) and Ben Foakes (57 from 74) easing their way into form. They were brutal against the two spinners who went at 9.4 an over.
Root reverse scooped Sean Davey for six just like he did Southee at Trent Bridge last summer while Brook dominated his stand with Lawrence, who scored just three of the first 50 they put on. Lawrence took over after Root’s dismissal, hitting 12 fours and three sixes in his first England innings since March. He fits the McCullum image as an England Test player but was unfortunate to be injured last summer when the team changed and his style became in vogue. This is likely to be his only innings of the tour but he is back on the fringes of the squad, and will fit seamlessly into their style of play if needed.
Quick runs the key for day-night Test
England scored at seven an over in the first two sessions showing that if they bat first next week in Mount Maunganui they intend to be well on top before the twilight hour when the pink ball swings around.
Both slow bowlers conceded runs at nine an over, England targeting them just like they did in Pakistan and at home last summer, with Ashok hit for five sixes by Brook and fortunate the first ball of the over had been a dot otherwise it could have been all six. If any team is going to hit six sixes in an over in Test cricket, this England one are a decent bet and there are plenty besides Brook capable of doing it. This might be a low key Test tour, but the way England play now, it will be entertaining.