New Zealand impress sell out Worcestershire crowd in their first T20 warm-up...

New Zealand impress sell out Worcestershire crowd in their first T20 warm-up match before the England white-ball series starting at Durham on Wednesday.

Rachin Ravindra (3-15), Kyle Jamieson (3-28) and Lockie Ferguson (3-11) led the way with the ball as only Olly Cox (63) contributed more than 12 for the home side.

The Rapids, captained by former Bear Ed Pollock, were put in, and started quite well, to the tune of 26-1 when Worcestershire’s Metro Bank One Day Cup second top-scorer and the whole competition’s leading six-hitter Kashif Ali (10) skied Rachin Ravindra to Auckland left-armer Ben Lister at short third.

Olly Cox, not related to now legendary Worc wicketkeeper Ben, struck 11 fours and a six in his 63 off 36 balls. But no-one else managed to support the home player of the match as the innings rather petered out in front of 4,500 fans at New Road.

New captain Ferguson wore the non-playing Ish Sodhi’s 61 jersey, maybe not prepared for a surprisingly chilly August bank holiday weekend despite the sun breaking through intermittently in the first innings.

The first innings finished with big Mitch Stanley struggling against Jamieson’s change of pace, then Ferguson’s pace on – two of the top speedsters in world cricket showing the Worc paceman how to do it. Pat Brown scooped the latter to the former, who judged his dive forward and held well, 124 all out.

I lamented NZ warming up at two of only six out of the 18 counties that are still involved in the Metro Bank One Day Cup. Meaning that their priorities lay at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday (as Glos’ played against Lancs today and now will play at Leicester on Tuesday), the local sides not being as strong as they would be were they having 12 days off now between the last 50-over group game and the County Championship resumption as the other 12 counties have. (NZ head to Bristol for another T20 Sunday evening).

Mitch Stanley bowled a couple of beauties in a decent first over from the Diglis End and Ben Gibbon started far better than in his ODC opening over at Taunton just two weeks ago. Things changed in the third though, as Tim Seifert took two sixes off Stanley, plus a not-capitalised-upon no ball free hit, the Black Caps by this point flying at over 10 an over. 33-0 after three.

If I’d stayed one more Saturday in New Zealand in March earlier this year I could have played against Anton Devcich/Tim Seifert in the southern Hamilton league competition…I didn’t and thus particularly enjoyed watching the latter taking Pat Brown (Derbyshire destined for next season) to the cleaners, thinking I would have had to have worn a safety hat bowling to him, 20 off Brown’s first…and only over today.

Spin’s first over saw Josh Baker (yes the one Ben Stokes kept hitting out of the ground in the Championship) bowl the Northern Districts man attempting a slog sweep for 30 in the fifth. 38-1. Bowes (35) attempted an extravagant scoop from outside off-stump off debutant Harry Darley, caught by Gibbon at square leg.

Rachindra Ravindra (former Durham allrounder) came in as high as three, the lefthander only got to 10 off 10 before giving Darley his second wicket and the Rapids’ final breakthrough. 126-3 saw the meagre total chased in 12 overs, Will Young (15* off 15) hitting the final blow straight for four after Glenn Phillips (32* off 15) had accelerated them towards the finish line as rain started falling with 38 more runs still required.

I spoke to Kyle Jamieson afterwards: “Nice to have a couple of new faces back and have another run out. We’ve not played a huge amount of cricket the last couple months.”

On Ferguson as captain: “I’m all for fast bowlers captaining I thought he did a great job.”

And on the upcoming England series and the way he expects England to play: “I think T20 is just bazball from the start. I think the way they’re going about their cricket is very exciting. Result orientated cricket is exciting.

Extras and sundries:

Exciting Northants allrounder Tom Taylor has signed to join Worc next year, and another three men are rumoured to be joining him, plus Ethan Brookes and Rob Jones to replace (and some) Josh Tongue and Pat Brown.

Former England internationals Ian Bell and James Foster have been enlisted to the BLACKCAPS’ coaching ranks for the coming weeks, while Saqlain Mushtaq and Stephen Fleming will also feature in the coming four months of continual touring (Bangladesh and the World Cup in India from October-November).


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