New Zealand v England cricket: Second test, day one recap as rain halts Kiwis’ solid first innings

New Zealand opener Tom Latham racked up his fifth test century in only ten innings on a truncated first day of the second test at Seddon Park in Hamilton overnight.

It will have come as a relief to England that their day was cut short just after tea with the arrival of a torrential downpour when New Zealand were 173/3 with Latham 101 not out. 

Latham has seemed to pick up where his team mates BJ Watling and Mitchell Santner left off in Mount Maunganui with their record breaking stand. 

He did survive an LBW decision where he was given out on 49, and was dropped by Stokes in a tough chance on 67. 

Latham’s continuing presence at the crease should worry England who has yet to be dismissed for a score less than 154 on occasions he has reached three figures and his current run of form includes a magnificent 264 not out against Sri Lanka last year. 

England’s preparation for this test match was far from ideal.  Off field distractions including Jofra Archer’s racism incident and coach Chris Silverwood’s sad news from home will not have helped matters. 

On the eve of the match Jos Buttler suffered a back injury which forced a rejig of personnel with a debut for Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope taking over the wicketkeeping duties. 

England also took a huge risk by recalling Chris Woakes at the expense of spinner Jack Leach which meant they possessed an all seam attack for the first time since the Headingley test against South Africa in 2012. 

Furthermore, Joe Root’s decision to bowl after winning the toss will be thrown into question. Although the Hamilton surface seemed lush, with a full 16mm of live grass, the England seam attack were not able to break through with any regularity. 

The ball barely deviated from the straight and narrow all day with England needing to rely on patience and discipline for wickets. 

Woakes did justify his recall with two wickets in 14 economical overs but it does feel like Leach will be missed as the match wears on especially if Ben Stokes is unable to bowl for the rest of the match. 

Since this tour is not included in the World Test Championship, it does run the risk of being seen, in some quarters at least, as a glorified development exercise for England. 

New Zealand, who are often under appreciated in test cricket circles, have the potential to show up England badly here and go on to win the series 2-0.

Injuries to key players and the captaincy of Root being thrown into question means England may arrive in South Africa next month in a very fragile state indeed and need certain players to stand up in order to spare further blushes. 

Play resumes tonight at 10pm. 

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