New Zealand opt for all-pace attack in 2nd Test

Updated: May 24, 2013, 8:35 AM IST
New Zealand opt for all-pace attack in 2nd Test

Leeds: Spinner and former skipper Daniel Vettori ruled himself out of the second Test at Headingley, ensuring New Zealand will take on England with an all-pace attack from Friday. Vettori's decision to put the team first rather than play a 112th Test and become the sole New Zealand record-holder for caps, means fast bowler Doug Bracewell will complement a seam attack with Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner.

"It's a gamble but when you're 1-0 down you've got to take it," captain Brendon McCullum said on Thursday. He will keep wicket for the first time in nearly three years, taking over from the injured BJ Watling. McCullum stressed it was a one-off situation, and hoped to manage the back complaint which forced him to drop the gloves in 2010.

With Martin Guptill taking Watling's place in the lineup, the usual opener will bat at No. 6, followed by McCullum. New Zealand hoped that when Vettori joined them on Tuesday for the coming one-day series that he could replace the injured Bruce Martin. But Vettori's practices came up short. He hasn't played a Test since July, missing the tour of South Africa with an Achilles' complaint and the home series against England with ankle tendinitis. Lately, he was a mere net bowler in the Indian Premier League.

"He didn't scrub up that well today," McCullum said. "He gave it his best shot. He's not quite confident he'll be able to get through five days and didn't want to let them team down." He said they were also mindful of not risking a flare-up of his injuries, as he was a big part of the ODI squad for the England series and Champions Trophy. McCullum added Vettori remained a Test candidate.

Back in though is Bracewell, who got himself in trouble when he was ruled out a day before the home series with England in March after cutting his foot while cleaning up after a party at his home. He's grabbed nine wickets in the two warm-up games on this tour. "Doug was outstanding in the warm-up games," McCullum said. "While four seamers slightly adjusts our balance, with the overhead conditions we see it as a positive option."

Bracewell will face England for the first time in his 15-Test career. His uncle, John Bracewell, featured when New Zealand won at Headingley 30 years ago for its first win over England in England. "Seamers tend to go OK here," McCullum said. "From the games I've played in here, seamers have certainly prospered. The wicket looked a touch dry underneath the initial grass covering ... you know, it's a gamble."

England counterpart Alastair Cook didn't think Headingley will be as bowler-friendly as Lord's last week. He believed wickets will be harder to take. "Over the last couple of years there have been some high-scoring games here and it's quite similar to Lord's," he said. "If it's sunny it can be a nice pitch to bat on and we will have to work hard in every session."

On the postmortem of their 170-run loss in the first Test at Lord's on Sunday, following 68 all out in the second innings, McCullum said the reasons they came up with were varied, and he defended his batsmen's apparent lack of technique and patience. "Some of the guys knew their footwork was a bit lacking and some guys knew their hands were a bit far away from their body at the time. Was it a pressure situation or a technical deficiency? I don't think it was a technical deficiency. It was the situation. We lost the ability to access our skills. The guys have got to free up their mind the best they can rather than be carefree about it.

"We've made the best with the situation we've got. We're still confident if we play well, stick to the things that have worked for us and can apply enough pressure on England, then in five days we'll be able to reflect on a job well done."

Teams (From):

England : Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Nick Compton, Steve Finn, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, Martin Guptill, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Doug Bracewell.

First Published: May 24, 2013, 8:35 AM IST

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