• Derbyshire v New Zealanders, Derby, 1st day

Brownlie and Watling signal warning to England

George Dobell at Derby
May 4, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Derbyshire 24 for 1 trail New Zealanders 289 for 5 dec (Watling 77*, Brownlie 71, Footit 4-65) by 265 runs
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Martin Guptill eased to 25 before he was caught down the leg side © Getty Images
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It is probably fitting that this tour had a low-key start: an encounter which seems destined to be overshadowed by Ashes hyperbole and Champions Trophy marketing began quarter-of-an-hour late due to rain, in front of a modest-sized crowd on a grey morning in Derby against a second string attack.

Poor New Zealand. While they welcomed England's Test squad to their country by staging a game in Queenstown, with its wonderful view of The Remarkables, they have been welcomed to England by a trip to Derby's county ground, with its slightly less wonderful view of the roof of Virgin Active.

Still, they won't much worry about that. After proving every bit the worthy adversary when they had the best of the 0-0 draw against England in New Zealand, their squad is back up to full strength, with Brendon McCullum having arrived on Friday and Ross Taylor on Saturday.

Neither was included in the team for this game, though. With a view to allowing several fringe players an opportunity, New Zealand also left out Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Both are fit and both might have benefited from an opportunity with the unfamiliar Dukes ball. All four senior players will have only one game - the Lions match at Grace Road - to acclimatise.

Only three of the likely New Zealand team to play at Lord's have previously played Tests in England, so it was no surprise to see Gemma Broad, one of the England team's analysts, taking the opportunity to video the New Zealand players in action with a view to formulating plans for them.

This was a gentle start to the tour against a Derbyshire attack as green as the outfield. It contained two seamers making their first-class debuts for the county - Alasdair Evans and Matt Higginbottom - a spinner, Peter Burgoyne, with 10 first-class victims, an allrounder, Ross Whiteley, who looks bereft of confidence and a 27-year-old left-arm fast bowler, Mark Fottitt, who remains long on potential but frustratingly short of achievement. If the BCCI presented such an attack to England in a warm-up game, there might well be cries of foul.

As it was, Footitt proved a tricky proposition and the New Zealanders were obliged to dig themselves out of a bit of a hole in conditions where, at first anyway, the ball moved in the air and off the pitch.

Footitt, who has never achieved consistency but has pace and swing, reduced them to 126 for 4, dismissing Peter Fulton, playing across one that swung into him, leg before, before Kane Williamson edged one angled across him that did not swing and Martin Guptill, who looked in fine touch on his return to the club he helped to County Championship promotion last year, edged one down the leg side. Evans, a tall seamer who has played ODIs for Scotland, removed Hamish Rutherford's middle stump with one that nipped back off the pitch.

Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling revived New Zealand with a fifth-wicket stand of 116 in 30 overs. Brownlie, strong off the back foot, and Watling, strong off the front, progressed smoothly against the support bowling. While Evans, strong and disciplined, looked as if he could have a decent future at this level, Higginbottom, who has played previously for Leeds-Bradford MCCU, struggled and was struck for three boundaries in his first over by the impressive Guptill, while there was little assistance for the spinners.

These were useful runs for Brownlie. He endured a modest series against England in New Zealand and faces a fight to retain his place in the light of Guptill's return but, having pulled and driven nicely, was punished for flashing outside off stump and edged behind.

An early declaration provided the New Zealand bowlers a first opportunity in English conditions. While each of them demonstrated pace, there was little need for the Derbyshire openers to play and progress was, if slow, relatively straightforward until the final delivery of the day. Chesney Hughes, fresh from unbeaten 270 against Yorkshire earlier in the week, hooked Doug Bracewell for a six but was beaten for pace by a full delivery from Neil Wagner to bring the day to a close. New Zealand could feel satisfied with the start, but will know there are stiffer challenges to come very soon.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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