England captain Joe Root has urged his players to not get carried away by the "fast forward approach" while playing the long format, ahead of the two-Test away series against New Zealand, starting on 21 November.
England have lost four of their last five away Test series, with their lone win coming against the lower-ranked Sri Lanka last year. In their last Test series in New Zealand, in March-April 2018, England were blown away by the new-ball pair of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, and were bundled out for 58 in the opening session of the first Test in Auckland. It cost them the game and, eventually, the series.
Root laid special emphasis on batting for longer periods this time around and called for better adaptability on either front.
Time has never really been an issue in Test cricket, especially in the modern game where things naturally move quicker than they have in the past.
"We have to be prepared to play some attritional cricket at times," Root said, ahead of England's final warm-up match before the Test series. "We have to try to bat longer. It doesn't matter how long it takes to get a good score on any given wicket. Time has never really been an issue in Test cricket, especially in the modern game, where things naturally move quicker than they have in the past. It would be nice to get used to batting for 120 overs more regularly, especially in the first innings.
"And it doesn't just apply to our batting," he added. "It's with the ball as well. We have to be prepared to go at two an over and build pressure in different ways. You can fall into the trap when playing in English conditions, as they've been in the last couple of years, and get used to Test cricket being played in fast forward.
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"But it's not like that everywhere you go. So we've got to be prepared to adapt. And if that means doing things slightly differently – whether it's controlling the rate with the ball, or being prepared to score at two an over for 150 overs, if that's what it takes to make 400 – then we've got to be prepared to do that."
England's preparations have seemed to be right on cue with their captain's words, as they piled up 387/2 in 87 overs in their first innings of the two-day practice game in Whangarei. Root seemed immensely impressed with newcomers Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley, who notched up centuries and have pressed their case to earn their maiden Test caps in the first Test at the Bay Oval.
"It was really pleasing to see Sibley and Crawley not waver from how they would go about things in their normal county environment," Root said. "It's what you always want but you don't always see it. For two young lads to come in and set the tone for the tour was really pleasing. We set our stall out exactly how we want to template our Test cricket.
"That first session was obviously going to be the most challenging one for us and I think we only scored at two an over. But we were only one down at lunch and, as the game progressed, we knew we had guys capable of upping the ante if we need to. I thought the template and the tempo of how we went about it was much more how I want to see us play in future."
The series will also be the first Test assignment for Chris Silverwood, who was promoted from bowling coach to head coach, after Trevor Bayliss opted to not renew his contract post the home Ashes series earlier this year.
"Chris has been around the group for two years, so we've had a really strong relationship anyway," Root said. "We're very much on the same page about how we take this team forward."
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