Auckland: New Zealand’s cricketers are drawing inspiration from images of Richie McCaw leading the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup glory as they head into their first home day-night Test against England.
Despite some injury concerns, New Zealand short-ball specialist Neil Wagner was focused on performing at the Eden Park fortress where the All Blacks are unbeaten in 40 rugby Tests dating back to 1994.
England quick bowler Chris Broad, meanwhile, believed the first day-night cricket Test on New Zealand soil could be decided in “one mad hour” – less time than it takes for a rugby match.
England have selection issues as they ponder the workload Ben Stokes can handle with a troublesome back, while New Zealand are sweating on injured senior batsman Ross Taylor and have former Test opener Martin Guptill on stand-by as a middle order option.
The history of day-night Tests, using a pink ball, favours the home sides who have won seven of the eight matches played so far. Further troubling England is their recent Test form, having lost the Ashes 4-0 to Australia in December and January.
Eden Park’s short boundaries should favour batsmen, but that doesn’t worry Wagner who had match figures of 8/126 when New Zealand beat India at the ground in 2014 and took three wickets in a tense drawn Test against England the previous year.
“I love playing at Eden Park,” he said on Tuesday. “A lot of guys find it funny, being a rugby field and with quite short dimensions.