<
>

New Zealand batters make most of valuable workout, as does Ollie Robinson

Tom Latham sends one to the legside Getty Images

New Zealand 342 for 3 (Latham 65, Young 55, Bracewell 51, Blundell 51) vs Sussex

After the frustrations of a washed-out first day, Hove was back to its tranquil self for the start of New Zealand's touring commitments proper. Spectators basked, seagulls swooped and runs were picked off in leisurely fashion by the visiting batters. The number of ball replacements (two) almost equalled the wickets taken by Sussex's attack (three), which included England seamer Ollie Robinson, who sent down 18 overs in his bid to prove himself worthy of a return to the Test fold.

There were half-centuries for four members of New Zealand's top five - Tom Latham, Will Young, Michael Bracewell and Tom Blundell - each of whom then retired to let a team-mate have a bat. As far as leg-stretchers go, this was a useful introduction for the New Zealanders, who only had 12 men to call on here due to a combination of injuries, Covid and late arrivals.

"To get out there, on a nice surface, for all the guys to get a good hit and some time under their belts is always nice," Luke Ronchi, New Zealand's being coach, said afterwards.

"It's those challenges you want to face when you first arrive. Not just him [Robinson], but all the guys got it to nibble around a bit and use that Dukes ball the way they can. For our guys to come from home to here, to face that and get through that challenge is what we're after. It's nice to bat through the day and a few guys get some runs."

Alongside Robinson, Sussex fielded three 20-year-old seamers and one aged 23 - although this wasn't a case of chucking in the kids for a friendly fixture, rather a reflection of the strategy at Hove where they have leaned heavily on their academy in recent seasons. The focus was understandably on Robinson, left out of England's squad for the first two Tests over concerns about his match fitness, and he emerged unscathed - albeit wicketless - despite spending around an hour off the field either side of the tea break.

He began with an exacting new-ball spell of 6-3-6-0, bowling down the hill from the Cromwell Road End with four slips watching on. Young took a blow on the glove and both openers were made to look uncertain against Robinson's nagging line and length.

He picked up again after lunch, delivering another five overs and coming close to a breakthrough, the rejection of his expectant lbw appeal from Hamish Rutherford's third ball bringing a withering glance back at the umpire. Having returned to the field 20 minutes into the evening session, he delivered two more overs before the arrival of the second new ball, with a fourth spell extending his day's work to 18-5-42-0.

New Zealand will have tougher examinations ahead, but there is benefit to be gained from spending time in the middle - and surviving a few overs from Robinson, in particular. Latham was typically unobtrusive, cracking a back cut off the left-armer Sean Hunt for the first of his six boundaries, and later producing a dismissive pull down the ground off Henry Crocombe. Young found the leg-side boundary three times in four balls from Crocombe, but was content to slipstream his captain as the pair raised 100 before lunch.

Latham was the first to reach his half-century, soon followed by his partner - who then headed from the field to be replaced by Rutherford half an hour after lunch. Young made 331 runs at 55.16 from four matches with Northamptonshire before the start of the tour and is expected to keep his place at opener for the Tests, despite scores of 8, 3 and 0 in New Zealand's most-recent series against South Africa, with Devon Conway - who scored a double-century on debut opening the batting at Lord's last year - likely to move down to No. 4 below the returning Kane Williamson.

After batting three hours for his 65, Latham also left under his own steam. Such was the desire to see the hosts take a wicket that when Rutherford survived another lbw appeal, this time off Jamie Atkins, a loud groan and accompanying cry of "Come onnnnnnn!" could be heard around the ground. There was something to cheer about shortly after, when Mohammad Rizwan, the Pakistan overseas signing making a brief appearance as a substitute fielder, took a steepling catch running back from mid-off to finally bring about the end of Rutherford.

Delray Rawlins was the successful bowler, and he picked up another when Cam Fletcher, the beneficiary of Blundell retiring, steered his first delivery to slip. There was also a wicket for Hunt, as Colin de Grandhomme nicked off against the second new ball late in the day.