After Covid-19 scare, Kiwis get England campaign back on track; four hit half tons vs Sussex

Hove: Following the Covid-19 scare in their camp, the touring New Zealand side got their campaign back on track, enjoying some valuable batting practice against county side Sussex ahead of the first Test against England starting at Lord’s on June 2.

On Friday morning (May 20), batter Henry Nicholls, fast bowler Blair Tickner and bowling coach Shane Jurgensen had returned positive rapid antigen tests, and will remain in hotel isolation till May 25.

On Saturday, the second day of the warm-up game against Sussex, four New Zealand batters registered half-centuries at The 1st Central County Ground, with opener Tom Latham leading the way retiring not out after making an unbeaten 65 against a bowling line-up that included England quick Ollie Robinson. Will Young (55), Michael Bracewell (51) and Tom Blundell (51) also registered unbeaten fifties as the Black Caps moved to 342/3 at the end of the day’s play, according to ICC.

It came after heavy rain ensured there was no play possible on the opening day of the four-day contest and New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi was pleased his batters finally got some time to get used to the English conditions.

“For our guys to come from home to here to face that and get through those sort of challenges is what we are after,” Ronchi said. “It was nice to bat through the day and for a few guys to get some runs and get themselves going for the trip.”

New Zealand will play three Tests against England next month, with World Test Championship points up for grabs for both sides.

The Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson is still in New Zealand ahead of the birth of his second child.

Meanwhile, New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said he is hopeful the Covid-affected team members — Henry Nicholls, Blair Tickner and Shane Jurgensen — will become available for the second tour match against a select County XI at the County Ground in Chelmsford beginning on Thursday (May 26).

“They are all feeling OK, but unfortunately they have all been struck down with the virus,” Stead said. “I guess all we try and do is try and minimise and mitigate the risk that is out there.

“We have protocols in place that we have been following, but I guess the nature of the virus is that it is highly contagious and it can be caught (easily).”

New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Tom Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Cameron Fletcher, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Will Young.

New Zealand Test schedule:
First Test: Lord’s — June 2-6; Second Test: Trent Bridge — June 10-14; Third Test: Headingley — June 23-27.

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