Lions lose first tour match

Monday 23rd February 2009

ROB KEY felt his England Lions side had batted too recklessly as they slipped to a 44-run first-innings defeat against New Zealand Emerging Players at Christchurch. And he could hardly exclude himself.

The captain and Steve Moore produced a Twenty20-style opening partnership of 59 in eight overs at Lincoln University before Key was thrillingly caught at deep midwicket miscuing a hook, and a succession of batsmen overstretched themselves until Ben Scott introduced a measured approach in the tail with an excellent 53 not out.

Jeet Raval was the fielder who raced towards the boundary and hurled himself for the catch that ended Key’s stay. And the same man then dropped a regulation catch at midwicket that should have dismissed Moore when 35. Such was the perversity of this game.

The Worcestershire opener survived and unzipped some crunching pulls in his 75, exploiting a chance to open while Key’s Kent partner Joe Denly (pictured above) was absent having an x-ray on a finger damaged in practice on Saturday. The X rays revealed no break and this injury will be monitored.

Facing the New Zealanders’ overnight declaration of 321 for seven, the Lions were bowled out within 69 overs for 277. Key commented: "I believe in people expressing themselves and playing well, but I think we got it a bit wrong today. We’ve been in the nets the whole time and we wanted to go out there a smack the ball.

"You just desperately want to hit a few fours, but sometimes you have to rein yourself in instead of keep on going, especially as there was a little bit in the pitch."

After Key’s departure Jonathan Trott had his off-stump flattened second ball for a duck next over, playing no stroke against a delivery from Lance Shaw that moved only a little off the seam. If the tempo did resemble Twenty20, here was an exception until Scott batted crisply for 2 3/4 hours at the end.

Eoin Morgan had looked the most likely to make a big score. The Middlesex left-hander started with well timed drives and a trademark pick-up for six, but began to overreach himself. He edged another pick-up attempt past his stumps and perished snicking an ugly front-foot pull — out for 31 off 37 balls. Key’s 31 had taken only 31 balls.

The next two-day practice match starts at Lincoln on Wednesday before the first ’Test’ against New Zealand A in Queenstown next weekend.

Story by Charles Randall from Christchurch

Picture by Anthony Roberts of ARPICS