Ball One – Not half an hour into the day and the UDRS is stage centre again as McCullum is triggered leaving a ball that looked certain to pass over the stumps and Guptill hits the ball hard off the edge to the keeper and gets a life. Now thems the breaks, but the UDRS would have got both of those decisions right. There’s plenty of sound-thinking cricket people who see the UDRS’ many faults as simply too big an issue for it to be woven into the fabric of the Great Game, but it gets far more right than wrong and cricket is the better for its introduction. With the UDRS confirmed today as in play for the seven ODIs starting on Sunday in Australia, expect the debate to kick off again.
Ball Two – Younis Khan, 33 years old and the senior pro, is asked by Misbah-ul-Haq to bowl the tenth over of the day into the Wellington gale. Cruel, Misbah, cruel. And not just to Younis, to the game of Test cricket, that has (let’s be kind) seen better bowlers than Younis in its 133 year history. But is it any less cruel to expect Wahab Riaz to do the job? Well at least he’s in the side to bowl and, after one over from Younis, Wahab was into his work.
Ball Three – Kane Williamson edges the ball even harder than Guptill did earlier and stands his ground until Daryl Harper, after what felt like an age, gives the young man out. What is Harper playing at? Few players walk these days (not many did in the past either) so the umpire should just do his job as unfussily as possible and let the players get on with the game. It’s a cliche to say that the best umpires are those that go unnoticed, but it’s no less true for that.
Ball Four – I’ve written here before of my admiration for Kane Williamson’s batting, but Number Three is not the position for a twenty-year-old making his way in the game. If NZ’s selectors were set on shuffling the pack – and they do that too often with their batsmen – Jesse Ryder, no longer required to bowl, should have stepped up.
Ball Five – Nesta has referred to Hamilton as quaint and that’s not a bad adjective for that lovely ground. The Basin Reserve is more spectacular and the cricket is still hard, but more relaxed than we’ve seen across the Tasman Sea. That atmosphere is helped by the television coverage, which is notably less frenetic both in the studio and in the com box than we have grown used to in these pay-TV days. I wouldn’t want all my cricket played and presented like this, but the Great Game is a broad church and can accommodate a range of styles – on and off the paddock.
Ball Six – I’m not certain, but I’d bet that more batsmen are dismissed to the first ball they face than the second (or any other you care to name). It surprises me that more care isn’t taken by bowlers to set the field just right and bowl that first ball to a plan. Tanvir Ahmed found an absolute beauty to tempt Jesse Ryder forward with an inbetween length and a fourth stump line that demanded to be played. Ryder edged and Tanvir had his reward for excellent planning and execution.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.