Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 3, 2022

England vs New Zealand First Test, Day One – The Final Over of the Day

Ball One – Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss as England vow not to be fooled again by Anderson’s age

The promised acres of empty seats were not in evidence, the sun was shining and Jimmy and Stuey were hitting good areas. Not much sign of a reset – or, rather, the reset has been reset to the formula that had worked for 1177 wickets.

But, as usual with Test cricket, the detail was revealing. Ben Stokes, with the instinct and, perhaps, sympathy of a pace bowler, wasted no time in posting a fifth slip for Anderson and gave Broad four from the start. Was this a sign that ‘bowling dry’ would take a back seat to ‘taking 20 wickets’? It certainly sent a message to the batsmen that nicks were more expected than drives.

In the third over, Will Young obliged and Jonny Bairstow, fresh from the IPL where there is seldom need for a third slip, pouched the chance spectacularly. Looks a good toss to lose.

Ball Two – Leach off to see the medics after ill-judged enthusiasm

Jack Leach leaves the field after a headlong dive over the boundary at the very top of the Lord’s slope where the outfield will be hardest and suffers a big impact on his head, neck and collarbone – all in pursuance of saving a single run. Out of the Test in its first hour due to concussion. 

All players do this these days, the act as performative as it is committed, the demonstration of dedication to the cause, of putting everything on the line, important with an army of coaches looking on and social media warriors ready to mash keyboards.

But a player is there for five days (one might argue ten with back-to-back Tests now routine) and surely we can trust them to balance risk and reward in their on-field decisions? A top order bat has to dive for the crease to avoid and run out and, if there’s collateral damage, it’s regrettable but excusable. A bowler (at minimum) risking their shoulder to save a run?

It always sounds churlish, mean-spirited even, to find fault in such circumstances, but maybe discretion should be the better part of valour.    

Ball Three – Potts pans Kiwis

Matty “Caractacus” Potts was flying on his hist morning of Test cricket. Running in with decent rhythm he isn’t lightning quick, doesn’t appear to swing or seam the ball round corners, but he pulls the batsman forward and makes them play. 

Sometimes, especially in England, that can be enough if supplemented by the luck that anyone needs to succeed in top level sport. Who knows what lies ahead for him in his career, but nobody can take away the world champions’ captain, number one all-rounder and wicketkeeper in his first spell as an England bowler. At Lord’s, in front of a full house, under a shining sun.

8.4 – 4 – 13 – 4. Happy Days for Pottsie! 

Ball Four – The long handle deployed

Did Baz “Brendon” McCullum go and see his old mates at lunch? 

New Zealand’s batsmen came out to play a few shots and the first half hour in the afternoon saw more boundaries than the previous two and just the one wicket – the scoreboard still looked sickly, but it was moving. 

As was the ball, but, softer now, some of the zip had gone out of its carry though Broad was relishing the opportunity to rough up Tim Southee – he knows what’s coming back at him regardless. It didn’t take long for England to get the now bashed about cherry replaced.

It’s something of a paradox, but bowlers essaying shots that batsmen couldn’t play, can work well, as the attack can lose a bit of discipline and patience and captains can spread the field. Broad, with 538 wickets and counting, had four men on the fence for New Zealand’s number nine with the scoreboard showing 78-7. Joe Root probably approved.  

Ball Five – England force confidence upon themselves

There’s something indefinable that you notice at the ground but not on television, something to do with the straightness of the back, the alertness to opportunities, the willingness to enjoy being centre stage.

Alex Lees and Zak Crawley, neither sure to last the series never mind the summer, faced what is always described as an awkward little session before tea – six overs or so. It would have been easy to block the experienced Boult and Southee, play for tea and slow heart rates in the 20 minutes interval after a madcap four hours of Test cricket. 

They didn’t. They looked to drive the full ball, work quick singles in front of the wisket on either side and send a message that bat was on top of ball for the first time all day. They had a bit of luck – the running was too reckless really – but they achieved what they set out to achieve. Under their new New Zealander coach, England batted like Australians, to take tea at 19-0 in reply to 132 all out.  

Ball Six – Zak’s back! And back in the pavilion

Zak Crawley remains an enigma. Can a batsman (never mind an opening batsman) ever have looked worth a million dollars one minute and a hundred kopeks the next? He can go in and out of form quicker than Boris Johnson goes in and out of apologising.

Everything was flowing off the middle of a broad bat, particularly through the covers with that bottom-hand propelled drive that isn’t the only thing that reminds you of Kevin Pietersen at his most imperious. 

The Kent man had progressed to 43 off 55 balls having left the first four deliveries of Kyle Jamieson’s first over and then struck the fifth to the boundary. Outside off stump, fullish but no half volley, the sixth would have been left or blocked by 95% of previous England openers, but Crawley had a waft and the fatal nick, as we had all expected, went through to the keeper. 

Will his shot selection ever match his shot execution? 43 out of an opening stand of 59 in 14 overs sounds good, but it’s  not. It’s doing all the hard work and tossing it away, almost on a whim. It’s obvious Crawley could do better; we’re getting close to the demand that he must do better – and it’ll be a long road back if he does lose his place.  

 


Responses

  1. Harry Brook – please!!!!


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