Joe Root encouraged by England’s batting ahead of New Zealand Tests

Joe Root has been encouraged by England’s batting in their warm-up matches in New Zealand as they aim to start building big first-innings scores.

England’s highest first-innings total during the Ashes was 374 – at Edgbaston in a game they went on to lose – while they were skittled for 67 at Headingley prior to Ben Stokes’ match-winning heroics.

Root’s men posted 372-5 declared and 405 all out in their practice fixtures ahead of the two-Test series against the Black Caps, with uncapped top-order stars Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley, as well as Jos Buttler, scoring tons.

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“We want to bat long, especially in the first innings – get ourselves into the game and give us an opportunity of making really big scores. Four-hundred-plus, as generally you can dictate terms from there,” England captain Root told Sky Sports Cricket in Whangarei on Sunday.

“It is something we have struggled with over the last couple of years, granted that at home, in particular, we have played on some very challenging surfaces.

“On flatter surfaces, like here, I think it’s really important that we get into that mindset.

“I think we have done that really well so far in the two games that we have played, with a couple of guys looking in really good order. I feel we are in pretty good shape going into two big Test matches.”

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England were unable to force victory over New Zealand A at Cobham Oval with ninth-wicket pair William Somerville and Ajaz Patel frustrating the tourists for 22.4 overs before the game ended in a draw.

But Root was pleased that his bowlers managed eight second-innings wickets on a docile pitch and that they accepted his funky field placings.

“I thought we were brilliant with the ball, especially early on. We learnt from the first innings and found ways to take wickets on a very flat surface,” said the skipper.

“We tried different fields – we were quite creative at times and the bowlers were very receptive to that. We got rewards, creating a lot of chances.”

Head coach Chris Silverwood added: “The plans we have put in place coming into this game have worked. We bowled quite nicely in the first innings and backed it up in this innings as well.

“We got the ball swinging, which was one of the aims. We have to find a way of getting the ball off straight on flat pitches and I thought the lads did that really well.

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