Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 4, 2022

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

Ball One – Slow over rate, but fast match

A tail as weak as any England have fielded since the heady days of Caddick, Mullalley, Tufnell and Giddens (it’s true!) added just enough to secure a lead and raise a rare cheer or two in the Media Centre for Parky’s drive to the boundary. That said, 25 runs in 30 minutes may be better than 35 in an hour, as bowling conditions look good again and Anderson and Broad would much rather have ball than bat in hand.

It’s a shame that we didn’t see the Lancashire pair last a little longer at the crease, Jimmy with his supermodel litheness and Parky with his hunched shoulders and Artful Dodger mien. Not quite the old Lanky odd couple of Clive Lloyd and Harry Pilling, but amusing all the same.

New Zealand will need to play more positively at the top of the order than they did yesterday morning, but conditions will demand that they’ll need luck as well as technique to get through to the sanctuary of lunch.

Ball Two – Potts cooks Kane’s goose again

Though the pitch lost a little zip compared to yesterday (and there wasn’t a lot then to be fair) batting against bowlers who knew the good areas and had the skills to hit them, remained tough. Will Young got a good one from Anderson and nicked off (as so many have in the last two decades), Tom Latham got the faintest of edges, brilliantly discerned by Michael Gough and Kane Williamson had his balance and timing all wrong in diverting a wideish one to Bairstow, enjoying a great match in the cordon.

Just 17 runs in the Test for the Kiwis’ captain, one of the very best batsmen in world cricket with as solid a game as anyone. Caractacus ‘Matty’ Potts has acquired a deluxe bunny early in his career, but one wonders how reasonable is the expectation that a batsman can swap continents and formats and instantly deal with the unforgiving fine margins between success and failure in the five day game.

Ball Three – The psychology of batting on a capricious pitch

I remain as sceptical as ever about The Pitch Reader’s Art, but assessing the balance of bat and ball is one of Test cricket’s gorgeously slow delights. This Lord’s strip hasn’t jagged around too much, nor gone up and down repeatedly, but there’s barely a batsman timed a ball in four sessions. That speaks of a stickiness that is sufficient to close the gates to The Zone into which batsmen go when ‘in’.

Some of that is down to the quality of the bowling (two have over 300 wickets and another two over 500!) and they’re hitting the those over-familiar good areas. And there’s always a self-fulfilling element that even the most mentality monsterish of batsmen can fall prey to – if you see a flat pitch, it plays easy; if you see a minefield, it plays tough.

Ball Four – Quiet period of play in frenetic match only increases its intrigue

Eventually two batsmen would put together a partnership with the old virtues of playing straight, blocking the good ones, hitting the bad ones and leaving the rest. That, more of less, was the method of Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell and 70 runs was their reward in the 20 overs before tea.

Such an effort threw up one of the unusual aspects of two innings cricket. By pushing the lead out to 119, the Kiwi pair had demonstrated that our suppositions about the pitch – a little tricky, but not impossible – are probably well-founded and those who, at lunch, felt a target of 150 might be enough to see the visitors home, were now revising their estimates up to 200 or even 250.

It’s a funny old game.

Ball Five – Lord’s neither loud nor loutish

No ground does quietly drifting attention like Lord’s. 32 overs into a stand that has yielded a pragmatic 100 runs, a gentle hum rolls round St John’s Wood. No Mexican wave, no boozy ‘Sweet Caroline’, no leaking-down-the-back-of-the-neck beer snakes. Some might claim that’s a little too genteel in a sport that uses music and big screens to animate its audiences in other formats, but cricket crowds are like cricket pitches – varying from venue to venue.

Long may that remain so.

Ball Six – New Zealand arrow in on a win as England fail to hit the bullseye

After the clatter of 24 wickets in 106 overs, the calm of no wickets in 56. Mitchell and Blundell’s stand of 180 has turned the game sharply in the visitors’ favour, although, with the match still three hours short of its halfway mark, there’s many a twist and turn to come.

It was old-fashioned cricket from a pair of pragmatic 31 year-olds, Blundell in his 18th Test, Mitchell in his 10th. First they staunched the bleeding by playing for their off stump, then they determined that the pitch (as it always does at Lord’s) was easing hour by hour, then they took bowlers into third and fourth spells. It wasn’t always pretty – the occasional sweetly timed drive was like finding clear spots in a tranche of motorway roadworks – but the Kiwi dressing room won’t mind that.

Ben Stokes used his leg spinner, he used his leg theory and he used his leg slip, but nothing tripped up a couple of hardened pros in a team used to winning Test matches. It’s a mindset that England will need to adopt very soon, as a poor session tomorrow morning will take the target past 300 and it’s a very long way back from there.

Maybe we should cut some slack to a debutant coach supporting a debutant captain who is managing two debutant bowlers against the world champions who secured their crown barely a couple of hours from here. But Test cricket is a brutal game that offers few hiding places. Ben Stokes knows that – and so does Kane Williamson.


Responses

  1. That was such thought-provoking content.
    Test Cricket: New Zealand Vs England, Southee to drag New Zealand past 300
    for more…https://www.99runs.com/post/new-zealand-vs-england-southee-to-drag-new-zealand-past-300


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