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Skipper leads from the front

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1 March 2009

By Charles Randall in Queenstown

ROB KEY
(pictured) led from the front with an undefeated 79 as England Lions
seized control of a rain-hit opening day of the first four-day Test
against New Zealand A at Queenstown.

The score at the close of 123 for no wicket exceeded all realistic
expectation in damp conditions before drizzle ended play after only 37
overs. Steve Moore, of Worcestershire, made his mark with a supporting
knock of 42 on his Lions debut after replacing the omitted Joe Denly,
Key’s usual opening partner at Kent.

Key and Moore managed to ignore the enveloping mountain scenery,
especially the saw-toothed crags of The Remarkables glowering through
streaks of mist, by focusing entirely on a testing four-man seam
attack. They batted very effectively, especially Key with his weight
of stroke. His 112-ball stay was chanceless, the biggest scare being
an edged drive just short of third slip immediately after passing his
fifty. Moore survived the day’s only real chance, an inside edge that
bobbed up off the pad, but short-leg slid his hand under the ball
without holding it.

Boult, one of three left-armers, gave the batsmen some scares on a
seaming pitch, and right-armer Brent Arnel -- a success at Key’s old
club Beckenham in the Kent League last summer -- proved hard to
combat. This would have encouraged the Lions seamers, including Robbie
Joseph on his debut after Sajid Mahmood withdrew with a slight back
strain.

Moore found that he merely had to support his more assured partner,
but one violent hook off James Franklin announced he had joined the
game. Both men scampered well between the wickets, and Key’s powerful
straight driving tended to disconcert the bowlers.

Key said afterwards: "We would have bowled if we had won the toss. It
was a strange-looking wicket. The ball was doing a lot off the pitch,
but the bowlers didn’t quite get it right because it was very tough
for them to run up in slippery footholds. We batted positively and
ended up having a very good day."

The previous afternoon of adventuring on Lake Wakatipu and the rivers
or strolling around the vintage and classic car show at the cricket
ground seemed a long way in the past as Key and Moore plied their
earnest trade.

 

Picture courtesy of Anthony Roberts of ARPICS