Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 12, 2022

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

Ball One – Jimmy Anderson walks slowly

Whether the GPS data bears hit out I do not know, but Jimmy Anderson on day two of a Test seems to walk more slowly back to his mark than any other bowler.

Of course, he’s earned the right to such privilege and continues to earn it every match he plays. But the Grumpy Jimmy meme is much more fun when the team is winning rather than when the fielding side’s energy seems focused as much on getting the ball changed as getting the batsmen changed.

Ball Two – Not good enough England  in every sense

England are not reading the room at the lunch break. No opportunity to take time out of the game was missed, as evidenced by a pitiful 27 overs in two hours, ten of which were bowled by Jack Leach.

In front of a near full house paying around £70 for a seat, if you’re going to drop five chances, lose a fourth consecutive session and concede a record partnership to what many will consider journeymen at this level, the least you can do is deliver the promised quantity of balls.

Umpires have a role here too because, like bad parents, they are indulging their charges when they should be disciplining them.

Ball Three – Daryl Mitchell has fun in the sun

In 2019, England bowled Marnus Labuschagne into his now stellar Test career when he replaced a concussed Steven Smith. Three years on, England are providing the same service for Daryl Mitchell, in the side at Lord’s due to Henry Nicholls’ indisposition and in the side at Trent Bridge due to his century at Lord’s.

Mitchell rode his luck, but that’s only another way of saying that he seized his chance and there were plenty of glorious strokes and psychological dominance in his superb innings.

There’s always two sides to any story and England’s lack of penetration was gruesome to behold, Leach treated with contempt, Potts looking raw, Stokes in workhorse mode and Anderson and Broad being protected. At 2.30pm, England’s all-time numbers 1 and 2 on the Test wickets ladder had bowled fewer overs than the spinner  the tyro or the captain. It’s difficult to make a case for playing both greats in the same XI if such kid gloves are required.

Ball Four – England have reason to fear what is to come

If the rain that came unexpectedly in mid-afternoon offered some respite for England, the resumption must have chilled the batsmen, looking at a little swing suddenly on offer, hitherto unavailable since the previous ball was dunked in cider.

But the weight beating down most on a team with minds already on saving the match and preserving a series lead, was surely the scoreboard, glowering down, displaying almost 500 runs for five wickets, just one of which had fallen in the previous 24 hours.

Somebody, indeed, some bodies, is going to have to play very well indeed with bat in hand. Partly because England were so bad at getting ball in hand from the edge or middle of Kiwi bats.

Ball Five – A big hand, indeed, big hands for Mitchell

Call me sentimental, call me old-fashioned, but in a polarised world, it was lovely to see England’s players rush to congratulate Daryl Mitchell on his dismissal for 190.

The crowd were on their feet too, every fan recognising a magnificent performance from the Kiwi all-rounder. Too often, opposition excellence is met with glum scowls around the world, but the tradition of showing generosity towards a worthy foe still holds in England – long may it continue.

Ball Six – McCullumism

A clutch of cheap wickets avoided the indignity of New Zealand, having been invited to bat, declaring on England, but 553 is, well, 553.

After Zak Crawley nicked off (to nobody’s surprise, including, I suspect, his own) we may have discerned the first real sign of McCullumism.

Alex Lees looked to hit the four balls for four and Ollie Pope had the timing that comes from the balance he usually reserves for the The Oval crease. Lees was badly missed by Mitchell at slip, but he deserved that fortune for his positive play.

Had either got out to an overly attacking stroke, the opprobrium would have come from fans and pundits but, one suspects, not their coach. How could he? After all, this is exactly how he would have batted behind a 550+ deficit.



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