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David Saker dismayed by slow pitches for England's Test series in New Zealand

James Anderson: England seamer 'struggling for rhythm'

Kane Williamson: New Zealand batsman defied England on rain-shortened day four

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David Saker admits England's bowling attack have yet to fire as a collective unit during the Test series in New Zealand.

England picked up only one wicket on day four of the second Test at the Basin Reserve as a combination of a bland pitch and rain - which limited play to just 35 overs - allowed New Zealand, following on, to close 49 runs behind overall on 162-2.

With a poor forecast for the final day, the series looks set to go to the deciding match in Auckland next week locked at 0-0.

"Trying to get batsmen out on this, you need all three of your quicks working really well together," said Saker, England's Australian bowling coach.

"We've done that in patches, but we know when we put it together as a three-quicks-and-a-spinner combination we are pretty hard to handle - no matter what surface we get."

Lack of pace

Both in Wellington and Dunedin, where England drew the first Test last week, slow-motion cricket has prevailed - to the disappointment of Saker.

"Just for a spectacle of Test cricket, this isn't the greatest way," he said. "Anyone watching the game wants to see the ball bounce through and sometimes it's a bit frustrating for the spectators.

"If you watched the Twenty20 and one-day games, they were played on very good and fast wickets - which produced some good cricket.

"The two Test wickets we've played on have been quite opposite to that."

Stuart Broad, who claimed 6-51 in the first innings, was the pick of the crop again and appears back to his best since the pain abated in his left heel after forcing him home early from England's Test tour of India in December.

New Zealand hanging on

"He obviously struggled in India with an injury, and it is testament to the medical staff to get him back," added Saker.

"He had an injury that could have lasted a lot longer than it did. He's come back, looked good yesterday ... and his pace has been really encouraging."

Broad's fellow seamers Steven Finn and James Anderson have not been as impressive in Wellington, although Saker played down talk of Anderson being injured.

"Injury-wise, he's fine," Saker said of the former. "I think he's just struggling for a little bit of rhythm. The high standards he sets, he'd probably say he's below his best at the moment.

"But we know (he's) one spell or two spells away from probably changing a game."


The bowling coach believes the same is true of Finn, while Panesar appeared to be hampered as much as anyone by the slow pitch.

"I think Monty at times has looked really dangerous, over the wicket, and around," said Saker.

"It's not one of those wickets that really zips and turns that he was used to in India. He just hasn't had that zip he might have wished for."

The one wicket England managed on day four was Peter Fulton's.

The stubborn opener still cited Anderson as England's best bowler, but said: "It looked like he was struggling with something maybe ... I'm not sure whether it was injury or the footholds.

"But as we found out in Dunedin, when you spend a lot of time out there, it obviously takes its toll (on the bowlers)."

"There's some turn there for Panesar. But for the seamers, especially with the older ball, it's pretty placid."