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Michael Vaughan has called on England's top order to start contributing major centuries if they are to improve on recent results and claim a series victory in New Zealand.

The shortage of major innings in the last year contributed to England losing successive series at home to India and in Sri Lanka before Christmas.

It is a cause for concern with captain Vaughan as they prepare for the opening Test against New Zealand, which begins at Seddon Park on Wednesday, aiming for a resurgence in England's fortunes after recent disappointments.

Both Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell helped themselves to centuries in last week's drawn tour match in Dunedin, but Vaughan admitted it is an area England need to improve upon during the three-Test series.

"We've talked about that and it was nice for Strauss and Bell to get those hundreds," he admitted. "I thought they both played with a great tempo in that innings and that's exactly the type of tempo we're going to require in Test match cricket if we're going to get 150s and 200s.

"We know we haven't done that as a batting unit consistently over the last year and there's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't because we've got a talented set of batters.

"We have spoken as a batting unit and there's a real hunger to get big runs and hopefully starting on Wednesday we'll have a big series and there'll be plenty of hundreds to cheer."

In the last 10 Tests England have played, only Kevin Pietersen has scored a double hundred despite 13 centuries being scored during that period.

England will attempt to improve that record over the next few weeks with a changed batting line-up after Vaughan decided to maintain his opening partnership with Alastair Cook from Sri Lanka.

That decision means Strauss will bat at number three for England for the first time in his career after being overlooked for Sri Lanka while wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose makes his debut batting at seven.

"My gut feeling after the two-day game is that myself and Alastair should pick up where we left off in Sri Lanka," explained Vaughan. "We felt it was a reasonably successful opening partnership.

"Strauss has come back into the side and looks mentally refreshed and he's playing well. Playing at number three is a new position for him and he seemed to fit into it nicely in the three-day game so hopefully he can take that form into the Test."

The tourists have also decided to stick with a tried and tested attack with Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Ryan Sidebottom making up their seam attack while Monty Panesar provides the spin option.

"As a whole squad we have to deliver," added Vaughan. "The senior players have to pass on as much knowledge as they can to the other players but collectively we all have to perform.

"You don't win Test series with individuals, you win them by everyone mucking in together, working hard and really fighting for each other."

Vaughan shrugged off fears about his fitness for the Test despite being given further treatment for a stiff neck at nets, while reserve wicketkeeper Phil Mustard broke his nose after a ball ricocheted out of another net into his face.

22 Posts
Yes they should step up.

We need to get an established opening Partnership that can get us going, & not leaving the likes of Pietersen & Colly to get the Innings back on track, that's been our main problem in Test Cricket for a while now.
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