“You ask what England’s pace attack will be when all the quicks are fit,” says Billy Mills on Twitter (to Daniel). “Simple answer is that all the quicks will never be fit at the one time.”
Are all cricket lovers prone to pessimism, or is it just England fans?
37th over: New Zealand 114-2 (Young 49, Nicholls 3) Another over from Stokes, another no-ball. If he was the kind of captain who tells people off, he’d be having a sharp word with himself. And that’s tea, with NZ clearly winning the session, but not out of danger. They’ve added 87 for one off 28 overs, and now have a lead of 128.
“Good afternoon, Tim,” says Mark Slater, picking up on the 30th over. “‘They’re trying to hit me out of the attack!’ I opined to my captain, back when I used to bowl at pace, and had the ball go past stationary fielders perhaps four times in one over. ‘They have succeeded!’ came the reply.” Ha.
“Still, better than being replaced because the slips used to dive out of the way of the snicks. Still rankles though, decades later.”
36th over: New Zealand 111-2 (Young 49, Nicholls 1) The commentators are showing that as well as getting that extra bounce, Leach went slower and wider to confound Conway. Proper slow bowling. He follows it up with a fine over for no reward, luring Young into a top-edged sweep that loops away for four, then firing in a yorker that brings a loud appeal for LBW.
35th over: New Zealand 105-2 (Young 44, Nicholls 0) Young pulls Stokes for a single, taking advantage of an inviting gap on the leg side as there’s a man out for the hook. And then Stokes is so close to getting Nicholls out played on: all that saved him was a piece of quick thinking and neat footwork.
34th over: New Zealand 104-2 (Young 43, Nicholls 0) One left-hander gives way to another, Henry Nicholls. And Stokes thinks they’ve got him right away, caught (by himself) at leg slip. He appeals so vehemently that he pretty much has to review, even though Leach reckons it has come off the pad only. Nicholls, by the way, was trying to get off the mark with a reverse sweep.
Leach is right about that one, Stokes wrong – but let’s give Stokes plenty of credit for standing by his man in the face of that onslaught from Conway. And a pat on the back too for Bairstow, who has been a specialist fielder in this series so far, but a very good one.
Leach has the last word! Conway had just reverse-paddled him for yet another four to reach fifty and bring up the hundred partnership. But then Leach persuaded the ball to bounce a bit more, so the next sweep (the orthodox kind) was a top edge that was well held by Bairstow at deep square. Big wicket.
33rd over: New Zealand 100-1 (Young 43, Conway 48) Stokes is busting a gut to make things happen, as he has for most of the past ten years. “He’s bullying the ball into the pitch,” says Mark Butcher, who is so good – both genial and original, relaxed and waspish. He’s going to win Commentator of the Year in about 2024.
32nd over: New Zealand 100-1 (Young 43, Conway 48) Stokes keeps Leach on and after a better half-over he gets reverse-swept for four again by Conway, who gives it a right smack. That’s the hundred up and NZ lead by 114. It’s almost as if they’re refusing to be dominated.
31st over: New Zealand 95-1 (Young 42, Conway 44) Stokes gives Anderson a break (4-2-5-0 in that spell) and brings himself on. He starts with a non-ball, as he gets his thumb caught in his shirt, and then a no-ball. It’s the first one for about 48 hours, as the New Zealand bowlers managed to get through 128 overs without once overstepping. After sorting out his delivery stride, Stokes draws a Harrow drive from Young, who picks up a jammy four for it.
30th over: New Zealand 89-1 (Young 37, Conway 44) Now Conway tucks into Leach too, with three fours in a row – a reverse sweep, a flick to leg and a cut. They’re trying to hit Leach out of the attack, which is a compliment to him, and a test for Stokes’s faith in him.
29th over: New Zealand 76-1 (Young 36, Conway 32) Another big shout from Anderson as he swings one sharply back into the left-handed Conway, but it’s too high and again Stokes doesn’t bother reviewing. I’m beginning to think that Stokes is the kind of person who keeps discount vouchers in a drawer, long after their expiry date.
28th over: New Zealand 76-1 (Young 36, Conway 32) Just when Leach was looking settled, Young goes after him! Two pick-ups on the leg side, one to long-on with a shimmy down the track, the other to deep square with a shimmy to the off side. A calculated assault.
27th over: New Zealand 67-1 (Young 28, Conway 31) Anderson beats Young with a ball that holds its line and keeps low. It feels as if there’s a collapse around the corner here, but maybe that’s because I’ve seen a lot of innings from England.
“Loving the coverage as always, thank you,” says Ed Gibbons – writing when Daniel was still at the helm. “Not sure if you’re still posting stories about autographs but back in about the early 80s I used to go to the Saffrons in Eastbourne and watch Sussex. They had a great team in 1981 including Imran Khan, and one afternoon he wandered out of the pavilion all padded up and headed towards the nets. I bounded over with a bunch of other 10-yr-olds to get his autograph, to which he said ‘Sure, but you have to bowl to me in the nets first.’ Can you imagine the utter thrill as we all lined up, taking about what we were going to bowl and how we were going to dismiss this giant of the game? Unfortunately the joy was short-lived and the only dismissal was his treatment of my bowling, carting my first delivery absolutely miles into some nearby trees. As I searched forlornly for it he went in to bat: lost ball, no autograph, but still a happy memory.”
26th over: New Zealand 66-1 (Young 28, Conway 30) Young plays out a maiden from Leach, who is slowly getting into the groove.
25th over: New Zealand 66-1 (Young 28, Conway 30) A searing over from Anderson, with two big shouts against Young – one for caught behind (Root keener on it than Foakes), the other for LBW (no stroke, but too high). Umpire Reiffel shakes his head each time, and Stokes follows suit. While gung-ho on most fronts, he seems to be quite a cautious reviewer.
Thanks Daniel and afternoon everyone. The draw is now a 77pc probability, according to WinViz, with England on 15pc and NZ on 8. But I suspect the algorithm hasn’t taken much notice of the human factor: the fearless buccaneering nature of Ben Stokes, now magnified by Brendon McCullum. Under these two, England’s approach has gone from safety-first to safety-last. They have changed the culture in a game and a half.
24th over: New Zealand 63-1 (Young 25, Conway 30) Leach’s first delivery is too straight so Conway works to midwicket for one. His fourth ball, though, is better, fuller, straighter – and with a different seam position, rotating towards square leg, not slip. Graeme Swann was on yesterday saying Leach needed to do that, thinking batsmen out instead of just hoping they couldn’t play his stock ball, but he follows it with another that Young takes for one, then Conway reverses hard, slamming it to the fence for four. That’ll be drinks, and as such will also be me; here’s Tim de Lisle to coax you through the remainder of what’s already a fascinating afternoon. Thanks all for your company and comments, peace out.
23rd over: New Zealand 56-1 (Young 24, Conway 24) Well though Potts bowled, and much as I’d have liked to see at least another over of him on a fuller length, Stokes needs something so goes to Anderson. What’s he done to earn such a show of faith from his captain? Pathetic. Still, he sidles through a maiden, the final delivery of which keeps a touch low – exactly the kind of thing England want to see.
22nd over: New Zealand 56-1 (Young 24, Conway 24) What on earth is England’s attack when all the quicks are fit? Archer’s wicket-to-wicket style would be extremely helpful on this track – I’d definitely have him in – but otherwise, I guess it’s still Branderson. Leach, meanwhile, induces Conway to drive and he drags onto the pad, but either side of that were two easy single balls that release pressure. I guess it was easy for him to say, but just yesterday we watched tape of Warnie saying that he didn’t mind getting hit to the fence but hated giving away ones because he wanted the man on strike to feel pressure.
21st over: New Zealand 54-1 (Young 23, Conway 23) In comms, they reckon Potts should go a little fuller, and looking at the pitch map, almost everything he bowls is on a length. Sure enough, he then tries one a bit closer to the batsman, and though Conway leaves it alone, he looks more discomfited in so doing than before. So Potts goes again, a little fuller still and on a fourth-stump line, so this time Conway can only play, missing. That’s another maiden, and I’m really enjoying this spell … but it needs a wicket.
20th over: New Zealand 54-1 (Young 23, Conway 23) Sky show us a graphic which tells us of the three spinners to bowl in the game, Bracewell has got the most spin and drift. Or, in other words, Leach will be feeling some pressure here, with wickets needed and Parkinson on his shoulder. He cedes four from this latest over, two singles and a two, but more than that, he’s not massively threatening.
19th over: New Zealand 50-1 (Young 20, Conway 22) This is really good batting from New Zealand – this pair have been calm, composed and solid so far, against some testing bowling. I’d still like to see Stokes, though perhaps he’s waiting till reverse is more likely, and I’d have brought Anderson back after lunch. Anyhow, Young takes a single to backward square then another one rears up off a length and Foakes has to fly right to make another tidy stop. Conway adds two after that – helped by a flailing throw from Potts – and England need something.
18th over: New Zealand 47-1 (Young 19, Conway 20) Leach is warming to this, beating Conway with that famous Ashley Giles trick, the one that goes straight on – not to be confused with his other delivery, the one that doesn’t turn. Conway then takes a single, before Young opens the face and runs down for three.
“After a pretty average West Indies tour,” says James Debens, “I think Ben Foakes has been absolutely magnificent in this series – that one-handed catch just now was terrific. He’s the best wicketkeeper in the country, and his batting. especially this morning. has been excellent. He should have two not outs already. There were some lovely strokes on his way to 56.”
Yes, agree with that. I can’t say I’m not interested in Bairstow keeping to get another batter in, but as long as he makes runs that’s not a question.
17th over: New Zealand 43-1 (Young 16, Conway 19) With no Williamson, Conway’s will be the wicket England most want, but he’s looking as nifty as ever – and Young’s doing well too. Potts, though, looks better than in the first innings – he was expensive there – keeping a much tighter line. Young does turn him around the corner, but Conway’s having none of it, sitting on his bat handle rather than sprint through, and that’s another maiden.
16th over: New Zealand 43-1 (Young 16, Conway 19) Leach replaces Broad and has a slip and a short leg; I’m interested to see if the bounce helps him find the shoulder, though it also allows the batters to go back and play off the pitch. Maiden, and England have dried up the scoring these last few overs.
15th over: New Zealand 43-1 (Young 16, Conway 19) Potts is finding decent movement on the angle, his first ball eluding Conway’s flick and beating Foakes’ dive en route to the fence for four byes. The next one, though, is similar in terms of angle but less so in line, so when Conway leaves it, it trims the air particles immediately above off stump – the movement is there, and there’s also some bounce. And, well eeesh! Conway clouts the final delivery of the over that Pope wears on the shin; they run one, and Leach will soon be upon us.
14th over: New Zealand 38-1 (Young 14, Conway 18) Another tight one from Broad, who’s got three slips fanned in front of the other, rather than shoulder to shoulder. He doesn’t threaten a wicket, but he does complete another maiden, and though New Zealand aren’t looking for runs, if England can stem the flow of them they’ll have a better chance of breaking through.
13th over: New Zealand 36-1 (Young 14, Conway 18) Oooh yeah, Potts finds an absolute nut to hit a length, bringing Conway forward and leaving him for absolute dead; the ball misses the edge, but the knowledge that it’s in both pitch and locker will do him now harm. “Hit the pitch as hard as I can as full as I dare,” says Mark Butcher, relating Potts’ bowling philosophy, which is a pleasingly simple way of explaining something it’s easy to over-complicate. Maiden, Foakes diving right to prevent the concession of byes after the last ball seams violently down the leg side.
12th over: New Zealand 36-1 (Young 14, Conway 18) Young edges Broad’s second delivery, but with soft hands so the ball rushes by Stokes’ dive for four, then after another dot he cuts hard for four more before opening the face to edge one that bounces just before slip.
“Lord Howard of the Lympne had been on the radio saying some nonsense about sending a military task force against Spain to defend Gibraltar,” emails John Kovacs. “That night, I dreamt that I saw Lord Howard of the Lympne at a Test match at the Oval – I was in the ground and he was outside the gates waiting to come in – so I shouted ‘No-one cares what you think you stupid old man!’. At which Lord Howard of the Lympne scuttled away, shame-faced, and justice prevailed. In my dream.”
What was in your picnic?
11th over: New Zealand 28-1 (Young 6, Conway 18) Oh, I thought we’d get Anderson back but it’s Potts – Stokes seems determined to trust the men he picks – and a maiden doth ensue.
10th over: New Zealand 28-1 (Young 6, Conway 18) It’s Broad to continue after lunch, and a shame he’s not got a huge crowd to noise up. That’s what happens when you start on a Friday, and much as Thursday 11am suits me, do also see the advantage of Wednesday. anyhow, Conway takes the final ball over the over for one to fine leg.
I meant to post this during the interval, but forgot, so now will have to do: Andrew Strauss is, without question, the best talker about loss, grief and dealing with both that I’ve ever heard. He’ll be talking to Giles Coren for Chai Cancer Care – a charity close to my own heart – and and the Ruth Strauss foundation, on Wednesday 13 July, at DBD Pitmans. I’ll be there, and please do buy a ticket and join me – just click here.
We go again!
Lunchtime email! “Back in the day at the Gabba,” says Brand King, “they used to let us run on to the ground as soon as the umpires’ called stumps. As the time neared, the boundary would be lined with kids armed with little wooden bats and note pads, waiting for the bails to come off so the race could begin. You had to get to the player first to have a chance. One day I was so eager that when I arrived before anyone else at the late, great Dean Jones’s side, I was gutted to realise I’d left my autograph bat behind. With only moments to improvise before he was engulfed, I asked him if I could have his baggy green cap. ‘You have to earn it, son,’ he told me with a wink. It was inspiring. I went on to average 16.7 for the Boroondara second XI.”
Asking an Aussie for his baggy green, sensational behaviour. Next: asking God for his angels.
Righto, I’m off for a break – see you again in 30 or so.
9th over: New Zealand 27-1 (Young 6, Conway 17) Potts will be desperate to redeem a miserable morning, having run out Foakes before making a run in Test cricket, just before losing his own wicket for two. Young, who’ll know he’s likely batting to save his spot – Williamson will be back for Headingley, and Mitchell, who replaced him, made 190 – nurdles one into the on side. Conway then does likewise to off, a dot follows, and that’s the session. It’s been an absolute belter, and there’s more to come; New Zealand lead by 41.
8th over: New Zealand 25-1 (Young 5, Conway 16) Stokes sticks with Broad for what’s probably the final over of a sensational session. He’s got three slips, a gully, a leg slip and a short leg, but he can’t find a stroke-inducing line – Conway leaves three of five, then climbs into one that’s too full, driving for four down to long off. He’s a very, very good player, and I think we’re getting one more before lunch, to be bowled by Potts.
7th over: New Zealand 21-1 (Young 5, Conway 12) Nasser reckons an over of spin before lunch, but as I said earlier, I’d go with Stokes. Anyhow, Young bunts to cover and they race through for one, then Anderson bousts in to deliver a bouncer! I know! Surprised, Conway, shoulders over the cordon so Root, Foakes and Crawley all chase, Root shoving away from the fence as he slides into it, and after a check we learn he got to the ball in time, saving two. A single follows, but England won’t mind that too much – they’re asking plenty of questions here.
6th over: New Zealand 17-1 (Young 4, Conway 9) Broad persuades one through the gate as Conway comes forward, narrowly missing the outside edge, then an uppish drive goes for four through mid on. The ball was in the air a while, but no fielder was close to it so you’ve got to credit the batter, especially when he’s as good as this man is. New Zealand are warming to this now.
5th over: New Zealand 13-1 (Young 4, Conway 5) England could use one more before lunch, and maybe a proper quick too. Watching them in the first innings, it all felt a little samey, and it was surely no coincidence that Stokes was their most dangerous bowler. I’d be interested in seeing his strawberry blonde arm before the interval, but for now Anderson is looking good, bowling to four slips, a leg slip and a short leg. Conway takes a single to deep square-leg, the only run from the over, and this is intense.
4th over: New Zealand 12-1 (Young 4, Conway 4) Broad is bowling so much better here than in his opening first-innings spell, bowling an attacking line straight and outside off. He sends down five dots, then Young drives four to long on.
3rd over: New Zealand 8-1 (Young 0, Conway 4) Three dots, then Anderson moves on into Conway and cracks him high on the pad. There’s a shout, but that was never hitting and I think an edge was involved too, so we don’t go upstairs. Next ball, Conway dives down the ground, Lees pursues, dives, wallops his shin on the hoarding, a right sair yin … and they run four. So Anderson sends down another nip-backer, and we’re seeing the benefit of not having to bowl 10 minutes after dismissing the opposition – not something England have managed much recently.
“I was never a massive autograph collector,” says Steve Cox, “but felt the opportunity of getting Viv Richards’ at a benefit match too good to pass up. I think it’s fair to say he was never the most enthusiastic signer, unlike Joel Garner who never seemed to stop. I’m not sure what the great man thought when I proffered the back of my green ticket or indeed the blunt orange pencil crayon which was the only writing implement I had. To his credit he persevered and managed to make some sort of mark which was more than enough to satisfy me. I’m sure I lost it before I got home.”
2nd over: New Zealand 4-1 (Young 0, Conway 0) Here comes Broad, who’ll be monumentally aroused by the state of play – the phrase “knees pumping” is surely not far off, and and he begins with a beauty that leaves Young, persuades another to leap off the turf like an off-break, then jags one in! After three-and-a-bit days of very little, the pitch is rising to the occasion, and suddenly batsmen who thought they could play through the line won’t have a clue what’s coming next! That’s a maiden, an we’re in for an afternoon here, mates.
1st over: New Zealand 4-1 (Young 0, Conway 0) I’ve no idea what made Latham do that – maybe he was expecting an outswinger, but this is Jimmy Anderson bowling. He wants you to do that, so he can clean you up with the inducker, and it’s hard enough to keep them out when you play, but not to bother? Oof madone.
OH MY ABSOLUTE COMPLETE AND UTTER DAYS! Ball jagging in from around, Latham shoulders arms and loses his pegs! That might be the worst leave I’ve ever seen, and Anderson now has 650 Test wickets! He is just a ridiculous human being, we’re privileged to be living in his time and we’ll never see anything or anyone like him again. A giant.
1st over: New Zealand 4-0 (Latham 4, Young 0) It’s obviously impossible to see this match-situation and not feel poorly thinking about Adelaide, so let’s just get it out there and process our trauma together. Latham presents the full face to send four down the ground – that’s a nice shot. Er, um, BUT!
Back come the teams. Buckle up, mates.
“Following up on the Jos situation,” says Ien Wilson, “he has played 57 tests to Jonny’s 84 but is only two runs down in average and almost all of his innings were at number 7 and playing with the tail and he is a better batsman playing higher up the order without a doubt.”
Bairstow was unlucky, I thought – he was kept in the team too long when it clearly wasn’t working, so that by the time he was eventually dropped, he ought really to have been coming back with his flaws ironed out. He too has the talent to make it at Test level, but his issues are, for mine, more about technique, whereas Buttler’s are more about approach.
Boult leads New Zealand off, his figures of 33.3-8-106-5 even better than they look. But the action he got this morning will have introduced frisson to English strides, so his batters have work to do – lots of it.
Anderson barrels down, tries what’s almost a backhand, misses, and off come the bails. I cannot wait for this next mini-sesh, because the match is bang up for grabs.
129th over: England 539-9 (Leach 0, Anderson 9) Anderson has a mahoosive mow at Bracewell, who gets decent bounce, thereby missing everything.
Yup, Leach did really well to jab a nasty delivery into his boot.
128th over: England 539-9 (Leach 0, Anderson 9) Anderson needs five more runs to overtake Boult as the game’s most prolific no11 – can he knock them off in one hit? Well, not for now – it’s Leach on strike and he calmly plays out five dots before a tootsie-crusher yields an appeal. Not out says the umpire, so upstairs we go. I thinkn it was bat first.
Tim de Lisle, who’ll be narrating you through Leach and Anderson’s tons later on, gets in touch with the following stat:
Boult and Anderson – 8 for 167
Rest of the seamers – 6 for 674
(England 5 for 318, NZ 1 for 356!)
127th over: England 539-9 (Leach 0, Anderson 9) Bracewell slows it down so Anderson speeds it up, stretching a long leg down the track and slog-sweeping for a one-bounce four. So Bracewell goes wider … and out comes the reverse for four more! That’ll be drinks, and this has been a tremendous first hour of play.