14 May 2015

NZ XI beat Somerset

12:23 pm on 14 May 2015

The New Zealand cricketers have won the first game of their tour of England, beating Somerset by 66 runs in their four-day warm-up match in Taunton.

Spinner Mark Craig celebrates taking a wicket with his New Zealand team-mates.

Spinner Mark Craig celebrates taking a wicket with his New Zealand team-mates. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The County side started the fourth and final day on 142 for six, trailing New Zealand by 202 runs.

Somerset gave the target a good nudge with James Hildreth scoring a century and Tim Groenewald hitting a quick 47.

However off-spinner Mark Craig bowled Groenewald to finish the match with figures of five for 34 from just under 12 overs.

It was the 28-year-old's fifth five-wicket bag in his first class career.

Craig says the wicket dried up a bit towards the end and lefties were his "best friends as an off spinner", referring to the footmarks that Ben Wheeler and Neil Wagner created throughout the match.

He says it was nice to get a few wickets, but the game was always about getting a good hit out for what was coming up.

Craig, who has been a key contributor for the Black Caps recent run of Test success, is looking to put his hand up for selection for the first Test at Lord's on 21 May.

He said his role is a holding one for the first innings, then as the game progresses and the wicket dries out a bit he can come into play a little bit later.

Stand-in skipper BJ Watling, who scored 65 and 46 in the match, was pleased with the side's first warmup match and was looking forward to the next match of the tour in Worcester on Thursday.

The wicket-keeper batsman said they had some outstanding performances; Ben Wheeler bowled really well, Mitch Santner had a very good 94 and was unlucky to not get 100, and Mark Craig stepped up with the ball.

The performance at Somerset will be memorable for the impressive debuts of Jacob Duffy, Mitchell Santner and Ben Wheeler who showed that there is exciting talent coming through the ranks of New Zealand cricket.

Wheeler picked up his third first class five wicket bag in the first innings, Santner showed composure and a full range of shots in his 94 and Duffy bowled with swing and pace to open the attack.

The New Zealand XI's match against Worcestershire is not a first class match so players can be interchanged into the line-up like Matt Henry who arrived into England from India today.

The remaining five Test players - Brendon McCullum, Trent Boult, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee and Kane Williamson - will arrive when they are released by their IPL franchises.

The New Zealand XI will play Worcestershire from 14-17 May.

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