Kent openers fail as Lions struggle

Tuesday 24th February 2009

ROB KEY’S England Lions suffered another uncomfortable warm-up day with the bat at Christchurch as they were bowled out by an Auckland University student who they will face again in more serious circumstances next weekend.

The Lions upper order failed again, with the notable exception of Steve Moore, the leading first class run-maker in England last summer, and they were dismissed for 278 on the first day of their two-day game against New Zealand Emerging Players at Lincoln University.

Mitchell McClenaghan, an imposing fast left-armer, took five wickets for 36 starting with Joe Denly (pictured) clean bowled for a duck in the first over. The commerce student proved a handful for the rest and his figures were better than they might look as one over went for 14 runs as Moore punished some loose deliveries. But McClenaghan finished in triumph by yorking tail-ender Gareth Batty, top scorer with 66, with the second delivery of the second new ball.

McClenaghan was one of only two players from this match, with Tim McIntosh, to be selected for New Zealand A for the four-day Test that starts in Queenstown on Sunday. If England bat as heedlessly again, they will lose to a far stronger side than the Emerging team.

New Zealand A will be captained by Jamie How, the talented but off-form Test opener, and features that brilliant all-rounder James Franklin, returning after injury, and batsman Kane Williamson, 18, a prodigy from North Island tipped to emulate Martin Crowe as a New Zealand ’great’.

The ball swung very little on a crisp morning, but Denly, having missed the first game with a finger injury, was bowled driving sixth ball by one that seamed into him. Key followed next over, glancing his first ball for four and snicking the second, a devilish seamer from Lance Shaw that left him off the pitch. When Jonathan Trott was beaten by Shaw, plumb lbw, the Lions had slipped to eight for three in the sixth over.

Test all-rounder Scott Styris, using this game for practice, ended a reviving stand by trapping Samit Patel lbw first ball after lunch with a full delivery, and the excellent Moore soon followed, bowled off-stump by Shaw offering no stroke for 59.

McClenaghan then wiped out the middle order with short deliveries, Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright and Ben Scott each bungling attacking shots. Their approach seemed wasteful, and Batty made his 66 off 88 balls without extravagance in a last-wicket stand of 64 with Sajid Mahmood.

Report by Charles Randall in Christchurch

Picture courtesy of Getty Images