‘A bit of a kick up the backside’ – Thorpe

England had gone into their four days of practice in Hamilton treating it as a Test match. Halfway through, after finishing the two days with the pink ball, they will be hoping things go better at Eden Park next week.
In truth, it was always going to be difficult to replicate any sense of intensity in this mish-mash of a fixture, which is essentially glorified middle practice where teams just bat all day. Regardless of how England fare in the two Tests, the game as a whole really needs to address the lack of quality warm-up fixtures for touring sides.
Still, and with those caveats in mind, it has not been an impressive two days for England. With the bat the New Zealand XI recovered from 30 for 5, then with the ball managed to take 14 England wickets on the second day, dismissing the likely Test top three of Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman and James Vince twice.
Liam Livingstone, who impressed with 88 on his first appearance in whites for the senior side, and captain Joe Root were the only two players to reach fifty (Root’s in his second knock of the day). Alastair Cook, though, looked in reasonably good order and Vince settled second time around.
Livingstone, the Lancashire captain, remains unlikely to feature in the Test series and batting coach Graham Thorpe said the fact he was the standout performer was a reminder to the established top order that they don’t have much time to get into shape.
“The first two sessions were indifferent for us but it was about getting the guys up to speed and making them aware they’ve got a Test next week,” Thorpe told Sky Sports. “A few of them will be disappointed they didn’t spend longer at the crease.
“But Liam Livingstone played very well. He’s been given an opportunity here and has fitted in very well. He’s not in the potential starting XI but he’s shown the head coach what he’s capable of and that’s what you want. For a few of the guys it’s a reminder, a bit of a kick up the backside, that you’ve got to get up to speed pretty quickly.”
Before the tour Livingstone, who played two T20Is against South Africa last year, told ESPNcricinfo he was more comfortable as a first-class player. He admitted the day hadn’t gone as planned for England, but was satisfied with his own performance in his first knock since rolling his ankle playing football on the Lions tour of the Caribbean.
“It was a bit of a tough day really,” he said. “But a few of us have got what we wanted out of the day. Obviously a few boys have still got another two days to go – so I hope they can get what they need from those.
“I was obviously pretty nervous coming on a first England Test tour but I settled in very quickly and felt really good going out to bat today. I felt really relaxed, which is a good thing. It’s been down to the lads who made it really easy for me to settle quickly.”
It would probably take an injury for him to come into contention for either Test, so he is keen just to soak up as much experience as he can over the next few weeks.
“It’s my job to come out and score as many runs as I can when I get the chance,” he said. “I’m just here with open ears and open eyes to learn off the best players in the world, which we have in our dressing room. It’s a great experience for me whether I play or not. It’s everyone’s dream to play Test cricket and it may not happen this trip, but it’s been great fun getting in and around the lads in this environment.”