Sam Curran and Chris Woakes had an unexpected bowl off in Whangarei as they battle for a Test spot next week.
And on an unresponsive surface against a young but confident New Zealand Cricket XI it ended 1-0 to the 21-year-old Curran who took one wicket to Woakes’ none.
Curran wasn’t supposed to be playing, but Saqib Mahmood suffered a migraine in the morning and stayed at the team hotel.
Jofra Archer, unsurprisingly, was the only bowler to take two scalps as the game ended in a draw with the hosts finishing on 285-4 in response to England’s eventual 376-2.
The numbers themselves meant very little in this game. It was nothing more than a practice match and it did its job in putting overs into bowler’s legs and giving batsmen time in the middle.
The question facing Joe Root is simply how best to put together a bowling unit to take 20 wickets and with that in mind Curran’s left arm angle, a variation from the other three right arm pace bowlers, should give him the nod.
England have been found wanting with an identikit seam attack away from home before, most notably in Australia and New Zealand two winters ago and Curran offers something different.
With Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes and Archer all nailed on to play, the battle between Woakes and Curran should be resolved with a likely Test eleven to play in the final warm up on Friday, a proper first-class game.
Woakes said: “It was a reasonable run out and good to get overs in the legs and get used to what we’re going to be faced with conditions wise.
“If you’re realistic about it me and Sam are going for one spot. We both played in the last Test match but that was because Stokesy couldn’t bowl so I suppose there is one slot there.
“It is up to everyone to try and put their hand up, but it is dangerous place to be to think your nose is in front as a player and it could go either way.
“Potentially they could go down that route of something different with the left arm angle and if they do, so be it, but it is just up to me to do as much as I can to knock on the door and put my case forward.”