There was concern off the pitch and then on it during an eventful opening to the Test leg of England’s tour of New Zealand when Ben Stokes missed out through injury and their attack was made to toil without him.
The absence of Stokes – along with Chris Woakes, Mason Crane and Craig Overton – was put down to a ‘minor’ back problem but so important is he to the balance of England’s first Test side that it had to be a worry.
And then, after England had dominated the early exchanges, a little known all-rounder called Kyle Jamieson so infuriated a chuntering Jimmy Anderson with his uncomplicated hitting that he was told to calm down by the umpires.
James Anderson (left) and Jonny Bairstow reflect on a day of toil for England in Hamilton
Anderson lies on the floor after Tom Blundell struck him with a shot during the warm-up match
England’s Stuart Broad lies on the floor after the ball goes past him during Wednesday’s play
Ben Stokes (left) was forced to sit out the first day of play because of a minor back injury
When Stokes arrived here for his return to international cricket England’s medical staff urged caution and suggested he would not be able to play until the third of five one-day internationals against New Zealand.
As it turned out there was to be no holding back a player forced to sit out for five months because of the Bristol fracas that has landed him in court and he was in the thick of the action from the first game, also here at Seddon Park.
Now Stokes missed this two-day practice match with a pink ball under lights against a New Zealand XI, staged to replicate conditions in next week’s day-night first Test, because the soreness was impacting on his bowling.
Halfway during this first day Stokes was to be seen leaving Seddon Park to go back to England’s hotel to meet up with his wife and two children who have just arrived to join the New Zealand side of his family in supporting him on tour.
Kyle Jamieson hit a century to leave England’s bowlers frustrated during the Test warm-up
Blundell marks his century as New Zealand reached 376 all out by the close of day one
Anderson appeals successfully for the wicket of Martin Guptill at Seddon Park
There is no question that Stokes will play in Auckland next week but unless he is able to bowl in the second of these two low-key two-day warm-ups on Friday there is every chance it will be solely as a batsman.
That will have a big impact on England as they consider their options for a Test series where the return of their talisman was meant to have provided them with that all-important world-class all-rounder.
The sight of James Vince getting through seven overs on what was designated a bowling day for the whole 90 overs for England was evidence that Joe Root wanted to try him out as a possible fourth seamer for Auckland.
England’s other injuries are all said to be minor but it was a shame in particular that the leg-spinner Crane was not able to play because of a back spasm of his own even though he had been named in the 13-man side.
Mark Wood is congratulated by his England team-mates after taking a wicket
Joe Root (left), Bairstow (centre) and Alastair Cook react to a shot during day one
It is a reflection of modern packed itineraries that England’s preparation for this two-Test mini-series has been reduced to four days of what is basically glorified time in the middle rather than any attempt to play a game.
England will have been pleased to have reduced what was a decent New Zealand XI to 30 for five, four of them members of the first Test squad, but less so when they let the home side off the hook.
When the pink ball goes soft batting becomes a much easier business and here England were held up firstly by a century from Tom Blundell, who five years ago was playing club cricket at Colchester with England’s Ben Foakes.
Batsman-keeper Blundell made a century on Test debut against West Indies in December but has been left out of the New Zealand squad for Auckland because of the return to fitness of BJ Watling.
Moeen Ali bowls at Seddon Park – he took one wicket for 99 runs on the opening day
Anderson is congratulated on taking the wicket of Tom Latham for 10 runs
Here he played with some authority in a stand of 163 with Jamieson, who is hardly known for his batting with a top first-class score of 40, to frustrate England’s eight-man attack and drive Anderson in particular to distraction.
Jamieson then went on to a hundred of his own before following Blundell into retirement, Moeen Ali suffering particular punishment as the New Zealand XI completed their recovery to reach 358 for eight before they batted a second time against the second new ball, losing 10 wickets in all during the day. England will bat all day Thursday.
Meanwhile, former Australia leg-spinner Stuart MacGill will arrive here on Wednesday to join England’s coaching staff for a week to work with the spinners, particularly his New South Wales protege Crane.