Off early: Tim Southee. Photo: Hagen HopkinsNew Zealand’s preparations for the first Test hit a sizeable speed hump on Thursday, and that was before Aaron Finch and Ryan Carters plundered their attack to all parts of Blacktown International Sportspark.
This was supposed to be Tim Southee’s first big hit out in but the Black Caps swing man delivered just three overs before leaving the field.
A New Zealand spokesman said Southee was suffering from a tummy bug. Though it will not have any impact on his availability for the first Test it is far from the ideal preparation for such an important bowler. Southee has played just one first-class game since May and will need to get plenty of overs under his belt on Saturday or risk heading to Brisbane in need of a gallop. But the Kiwis are confident that will not be the case.
In the absence of Southee and Trent Boult, who was rested, the Black Caps attack failed to take a wicket as Finch and Carters batted all day to take the Cricket XI to 0-376 at stumps on the first day.
Finch finished the day unbeaten on 214, his maiden first-class double century, while Carters was on 156.
The Black Caps’ impotence with the ball will raise questions about the depth of their bowling ranks and give confidence that they can prosper so long as they can negotiate the dangers of their leading strike weapons. Short of getting time on their legs, as the Blacks Caps put it, they gained very little.
For starters, the flat and lifeless wicket could not be any more different to the fast and bouncy conditions that will greet them at the Gabba, rendering this match as close to a waste of time for them.
The only positive for the tourists was they were able to give Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell and spinner Mark Craig the overs they needed though part-timers were required so they were not overtaxed. Even Brendon McCullum, who started his career as a wicketkeeper, rolled his arm over.
For Finch, this was just the tonic ‘s World Cup-winning opener needed after being surprisingly overlooked for Victoria’s shield team following a lean Matador Cup.
Although an experienced player on the international stage in the limited-overs formats, Finch is yet to make his mark in the red-ball game. But innings like this will give him confidence it’s a matter of when not if.
“To play games in a row in one format is pretty crucial and I suppose when you’re chopping and changing formats it can be hard and it does disturb your rhythm a bit,” Finch said. “At the same time I’m a professional cricketer that should be able to adjust a bit better than that.”