Ian Bell: England won't 'coast' in warm-up
England's batsmen Ian Bell, left, and Alastair Cook (Reuters file)
By David Clough
England are set to follow a formula they trust on tour in their Test warm-up match against a New Zealand 11.
That means picking a near first-choice team and setting out to win at the Queenstown Events Centre ground, not merely fine-tune preparations for next week's first Test of three in Dunedin.
Ever since the 2010/11 Ashes, it has been a guiding premise for coach Andy Flower and his captains that it is imperative to start any tour as you mean to go on.
Intensity will be high therefore, against hosts featuring three possibles for New Zealand's full Test team, when England take the field on Wednesday.
Ian Bell, set to bat in his accustomed number five position here, confirmed the simple plan. "We'll put as strong a team out as we can.
"We always look to put an emphasis on winning warm-up games, not just coast through them.
"We want to go out there and win it, to create that momentum going into a Test series."
England will be on a fact-finding mission too, however.
The main answer they need to come up with is who opens the batting alongside captain Alastair Cook, not just in the warm-up but in the Tests to follow and eventually back-to-back Ashes next summer and winter.
All the indications at practice were that Nick Compton, after his sterling efforts and mostly effective contributions on his maiden tour of India, will retain his position at the top of the order.
There appears nonetheless to be a growing clamour for Joe Root to be elevated, after his impressive debut at number six to help England close out a famous series victory in Nagpur in December.