Natalie Sciver and Lauren Down scored half-centuries
England 299 for 9 (Sciver 75) beat New Zealand XI 279 for 6 (Down 97) by 20 runs
England Women won the first warm-up game of their tour of New Zealand, defeating a New Zealand XI by 20 runs in Queenstown despite a valiant 97 by Lauren Down.
Last summer’s Covid-related postponements mean that England have not played an ODI since December 2019, when they beat Pakistan 2-0 in Malaysia, and they are yet to play one with head coach Lisa Keightley in charge.
The batting line-up in Sunday’s warm-up hinted at continuity rather than overhaul, with Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt putting on 66 for the opening partnership after resuming their opening stand. England were kept in check by regular wickets throughout their innings, with Natalie Sciver – who made 75 off 74 balls – the only batter to reach 50. Katherine Brunt’s 41 off 29 dragged them up to a strong total, setting 300 to win.
Sixteen-year-old left-arm spinner Fran Jonas and Brooke Halliday, both potential ODI debutants after winning spots in New Zealand’s squad for the series, took a wicket apiece, while Hayley Jensen was the pick of the attack with 2 for 25 from her six overs.
The New Zealand XI were always behind the required rate in their chase, but Down – overlooked for the upcoming series – held their innings together with 97 off 108 balls from No. 3. Tash Farrant took a wicket on her return to England colours, while Sophie Ecclestone was characteristically frugal, returning 1 for 24 in her seven overs. Beaumont and Amy Jones split wicket-keeping duties.
England will play their second and final warm-up match against the same opposition on February 16, before the ODI series starts on 23 February in Christchurch.
“It’s been a very long time since we played 50-over cricket,” Beaumont said. “Everyone got a good run-out, lots of starts with the bat and some good overs for the bowlers. You probably would have liked a couple more batters to be selfish and almost be dragged off the pitch in a warm-up game but obviously Nat Sciver showed us how it’s done.
“I think we probably need to tighten up a little bit ahead of Tuesday but [it was] certainly good to get back out in a competitive situation. It was great to have some fans in. Apparently we got more than the West Indies men when they played here, so that was great to have some support here.”