Cricket - Broad on track

Captain Stuart Broad and lynchpin Twenty20 batsman Luke Wright were able to prove their fitness for Monday's first warm-up match against a New Zealand XI, between the showers in Whangarei.

Another wet morning at the Cobham Oval again curtailed England's practice session.

But Wright, who hurt his hand in Saturday's fielding drills, batted without significant discomfort; then Broad, still recovering from his bruised heel, was able to bowl outdoors for the second time on tour.

The captain's injury, an erosion of fat tissue below his heel bone on his left foot, will continue to be monitored - with two months of cricket in all formats to come here, at the start of a year of back-to-back Ashes series. But the indications from England are that both he and Wright will be fit to take part in the tour opener against opposition including Ross Taylor.

The former New Zealand captain has been selected in his country's Twenty20 and one-day international squads to face England this month, having apparently healed the rift between himself and coach Mike Hesson which caused him to miss the recent tour of South Africa.

Broad and Co will be wise to be wary of the threat posed by such a destructive batsman.

England, however, have plenty of firepower of their own - not least in big-hitting opener Alex Hales. The 6ft 5in batsman followed his fine form in two Twenty20s in India before Christmas with a memorable six-laden debut innings of 89 for Melbourne Renegades last month.

He is intent on more of the same, of course, against New Zealand - and is raring to go.

"Obviously it will be a little bit different here to the subcontinent, but I can't see the conditions being too dissimilar to what we're used to in England," he said.

England (v New Zealand XI at the Cobham Oval, from): SCJ Broad (captain), AD Hales, MJ Lumb, LJ Wright, JM Bairstow, EJG Morgan, JC Buttler (wkt), SR Patel, CR Woakes, JC Tredwell, SC Meaker, JW Dernbach, ST Finn, JE Root.