STUART Broad’s late hattrick confirmed the outcome at the Cobham Oval, after Jos Buttler’s maiden England half-century had put the tourists on course for a comfortable victory.
England had 46 runs to spare over a New Zealand XI, and the final margin of their success in this first Twenty20 warm-up fixture might have been fewer had captain Broad not made such short and spectacular work of the tail.
It was especially heartening for England at the start of their two-month tour that Broad should demonstrate his well-being in his first significant spell since recovering from the heel injury which ended his Test tour of India early before Christmas.
Buttler’s 21-ball 50, however, was the cornerstone of their 186 for three as he and Eoin Morgan made sure of a defendable total.
A typically inventive and powerful innings from Buttler (57no) contained six fours and three sixes as he dominated an unbroken stand of 77 with Morgan (48no) after England had been put in.
Then after Chris Woakes (three for 27) had taken two wickets with the new ball, the hosts – without the destructive Ross Taylor, who flew home yesterday morning to prepare for the forthcoming Twenty20 internationals – could not get competitive, despite a belligerent 55 from Colin Munro.
The left-handed number five, who made his Test debut in his native South Africa last month, almost matched Buttler with three sixes and three fours in his 28-ball 50.
But he needed more support to push England out of a relative comfort zone, and Broad (three for 22) grabbed the minor late glory.
The tourists had lost Alex Hales early, driving a length ball to mid-off, and managed only mediocre momentum on the way to 32 for one in the six-over powerplay.
Michael Lumb was also gone before the 50 was up, caught at deep cover in Ian Butler’s first over.
Luke Wright counted England’s first six, off a Butler slower ball, in the tenth over.
But it still appeared harder work for the top order than it had 24 hours earlier when the hosts got off to such a fine start before rain washed them out and they started again the following day.
Wright and Morgan shared a stand of 61 in seven overs until the number three went up the wicket and was stumped.
He had nonetheless helped to pave the way for Buttler and Morgan to take toll of the seamers in the final five overs – and the wicketkeeper-batsman, in particular, did not disappoint.
Former Test bowler Butler suffered most among the New Zealanders once his near namesake from Somerset found his range, with a scoop shot over the wicketkeeper for four and one six over long-off and another crashed off the back foot over long-on in the seamer’s final over.
The New Zealand XI reply was soon in disarray, thanks to Woakes who saw off both openers cheaply.
Anton Devcich was caught at point when the mediumpacer got one to pop from just short of a length, and a similar delivery to Hamish Rutherford in Woakes’ next over resulted in an uppercut into the hands of third man.
Tom Latham and Neil Broom hinted at a recovery, only for the former to be run out by a Lumb throw after wandering out of his crease.
Then Broom missed a low full-toss and was bowled by Jade Dernbach (three for 24).
Munro and Luke Ronchi kept hope alive for the home crowd but still no partnership of sufficient substance was forthcoming, Woakes returning to have Ronchi pulling a slower short ball into the hands of short fine-leg.
Munro completed his halfcentury by flicking a Wright full-toss for six but soon afterwards was bowled by some more full-length pace from Dernbach.
His departure settled the issue for sure before Broad turned on the style with his hat-trick in the penultimate over – two caught in the legside deep and a third edging behind – as four wickets fell with the total stuck on 136.
England, however, could have been called the winners in any case almost throughout a run chase which was respectable but no more.