Daily Mail UK – There was concern off the pitch and then on it during an eventful opening to the Test leg of England’s tour here 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.