England v New Zealand: day three at Lord’s (updated)

Your views and comments welcome as day three progresses. As I write, New Zealand are 314-2, trailing by 75, and Kane Williamson has just reached a deserved Lord’s century. I enjoyed watching him bat yesterday, an experienced acutely described here by Lord Canis Lupus.

So…can England make the imminent new ball count? Can Alastair Cook find a way to force wickets? All will New Zealand bat themselves to a match-winning lead?

Update: stumps

An enthralling day of ebb and flow, and although New Zealand had the better of it, and remain on top, this match is hard to call. On paper the scorecard suggests a draw but there are two days left, and England, not only the Kiwis, could still win from here.

The visitors have played the better cricket, and batted with resilience, authority and attacking intent. That’s despite England bowling pretty well, especially today – although they didn’t aim at the stumps enough, certainly less than the Kiwis.

Stuart Broad sent down a couple of his best spells in ages. Mark Wood, on the evidence so far, looks the most promising of the third seamers England have tried since the 2013/14 Ashes: more than Liam Plunkett, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes. Wook looks zesty and aggressive, with a bit of something about him. Will England’s coaches manage to avoid messing him up?

That said, England still conceded 523. They can only boss the opposition, in the field, when Anderson is on song. If he’s not taking wickets, Alastair Cook has little in reserve except short-ball tactics, which are usually crudely sign-posted.

Tomorrow, Cook’s innings will probably decide the match. If he falls early, you can easily envisage England failing to set New Zealand any kind of target. But if he bats till five o’clock, the balance of power will have significantly shifted.

A few talking points. In the afternoon session a declined LBW appeal against Corey Anderson was referred to the third umpire (in this case Rod Tucker, who we now hear on the TV coverage – which is interesting). The ball-tracking then adjudged ‘wickets’ as ‘umpire’s call’, and Anderson was reprieved. In the commentary box, Ian Botham railed against the consequence for New Zealand: losing one of their reviews. His logic was – why should you lose a review on umpire’s call, when the ball was actually hitting the stumps?

To me, this rule seems absolutely right and proper. The purpose of DRS is to help avoid genuine howlers – incidents when the on-field umpire gets the decision wrong by miles. DRS should not lead to LBW calls being routinely referred to the computer. But that would happen if fielding sides did not lose a review for ‘umpire’s call’.

The risk of forfeiting a review acts a deterrent against frivolous or speculative appeals. If captains knew an ‘umpire’s call’ caused no harm, they’d review many more LBWs, spoiling the flow of the game and giving too much power to the ball-tracking system.

Or have I got this wrong? What do you think?

I also wanted to expand on my reference to Lord Canis Lupus’s post last night. He said:

The events of the past 15 months have seen my attitude to cricket change considerably. I had been a truly passionate supporter of England, and while I always appreciated the great players around the world, I would get to dislike some of them based on the fact that they weren’t from my team. You can’t help who you are.

Now, with the nonsense of the past 15 months, with no sign of any meaningful contrition, I watch the matches with a more neutral perspective. This time a couple of years ago the performances this evening of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson would have driven me mad. Instead I watched as a man struggling with his body, and to some extent his game, in Ross Taylor battle gainfully, fighting hard, grafting. I love that in a player.

Then there was the almost too perfect Kane Williamson, looking every part the true class batsman he is. It was almost inevitable he made runs, looking totally in tune with his game, and rarely, if ever, looking threatened. I’m preparing the next instalment of Century Watch for the inevitable… (that’ll curse him). It’s early days, I know, and this will be just two tests, but do you remember how, in the mid 2000s, every time Mohammed Yousuf came to the crease, you knew he’d score runs? I felt like that with Kane today.

This really struck a chord with me. Until February 2014 I was the worst kind of one-eyed England supporter. All I cared about, whenever England were playing, was that England won. I could never take an iota of pleasure from an opponent’s performance. Every run they scored, every wicket they took, hurt our chances of winning.

Each time Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting came out to bat against us, I wanted them to get a duck.

Nowadays the world is a different place, at least for some of us. I watched the spectators at Lord’s today, cheering patriotically, as if nothing had happened, and wonder how things look through their eyes.

Unlike most of them, I cannot identify myself with the England team like I did before 4th February 2014. I cannot wildly celebrate the achievements of a team representing a cricket board who hate me, my friends, and every other England supporter. So now I watch England matches in a different way. The outcome of the match means rather less. But the skill, artistry and character of each cricketer’s performance, on either side, means rather more.


  • Now that NZ are batting we can now see that England’s first innings was a poor effort.
    The ball this morning was doing just as much as the first session on day one.
    My main issue with Cook is he is not inventive or off the cuff as captain, and sometime just plain stubborn. Williamson scores a stackful of runs via the third man area on Friday and despite all the commentators yesterday and this morning pointing it out to him, he still didn’t plug that gap properly this morning!

  • WOW MAXIE!…..Now that’s more like it! I can read that much better than your normal oratorios!

  • The Outside Cricket post touches on an issue that often occurs to me when reading TFT, which is that watching cricket with a massive team bias is something I’ve always thought was weird and myopic anyway.

    It really seems to me that the question of who wins is really rather secondary. The match situation is the backdrop against which individuals try to express themselves through the medium of cricketing skills but surely there’s no question of which element is the canvas and which the painting.

    The result provides context to the performances, but it’s the performances themselves that are the intrinsically valuable thing in cricket ; not the adding up at the end of the game, and not which sweater (or which awful ladies cardigan from Waitrose) the guy was wearing.

    England vs Australia has always tended to be a bit different, but for me it’s because the Aussies – certainly in the time I’ve been watching – have tended to play the game in a somewhat obnoxious spirit, especially when dominating. It’s hard not to root for the other guy in that situation.

    Similarly though, I really like the way the NZ team plays cricket, and I like the spirit in which they play. I’ve often not been a fan of the way England have played the game in recent years, and don’t feel any sort of personal identification with them when they win, even when the team features somebody I played with or against in amateur games years ago.

    I remember watching a terrific Brian Lara knock vs England on tv ages back, and when he was out Dermot Reeve briefly ranted about those English fans in the ground who had said that they’d enjoyed watching him bat so much that they were sad to see him out.

    Reeve suggested such thoughts were cricketing treason, where I feel exactly the opposite ; that if you really love the game then the finest thing is to see the best cricket prosper, and the worst is to see feeble cricket succeed.

    • Had to read your post twice and then decided I completely agree. I remember talking the boss into giving me the morning off so I could watch Sir Viv at Hove. He hit a hundred, biffing Jon Snow back over his head a few times. Never forget Botham’s Ashes. Never forget Warne’s “ball of the century”. It’s the special performances that make cricket attractive. Dermot Reeve should be fed an unlimited supply of gobstoppers

      • Really? Oh good. I do talk some awful shite sometimes.

        Viv Richards is a great example of someone whose wicket I can hardly imagine much celebrating, as a spectator. He clearly belongs out in the middle, hitting boundaries.

        There’s something entirely perverse about hoping to see him defeated by Derek Pringle or Eddie Hemmings. I don’t think I could possibly manage it.

        • There’s something entirely perverse about hoping to see him defeated by Derek Pringle or Eddie Hemmings


          Having been lucky enough to have seen him bat, perverse hardly begins to describe it….
          Maybe on a playground seesaw, as neither were our most svelte bowlers.

          • India vs England, Lord’s, 1990.

            Best piece of cricket in that test match? Was it Gooch, dutifully assembling 450 odd runs on a flat deck?

            No, it wasn’t. It was about 5 minutes work from Kapil Dev, repeatedly swatting England’s middle aged, hamster faced pie chucker into the stands, and laughing at decades of absolutely terrible English spin bowling coaching.

            • John, to be fair to your team and the pie chuckers involved, they did win that game! Given the pitch was good enough for anyone to make as many runs as Gooch did, someone must have done something right with the ball.

              Here’s a totally irrelevant tidbit – the game Gooch got his 300 in was test match number 1148 – the current game is number 1162. There have been more than 1,000 tests since that game, or if you prefer to think of it that way almost as many since as there were before. In a couple of years, that test will be in the first half of all test matches played.

  • Depressingly impotent bowling/fielding again from England. Is it a Cook thing or an England thing more generally?

  • I don’t think cricket has changed: I still love cricket just as obsessively as I ever have. I currently spend roughly 40 hours a week coaching, administrating or playing cricket on top of my day job. Nothing there has changed, if anything it has increased.

    My support for the ECB and the English cricket team has reduced massively since 2006. How could it not have? The ECB voluntarily took cricket off the tv screens and out of the sight of the nation. They are the enemies of cricket as far as I am concerned.

  • Nice work Maxie. I echo your thoughts and for the first time went to Lords not cheering England on but wanting NZ to play well and see some top performances, particularly to see a very classy batsman Kane get on the honour’s board. However, there were still plenty of ECB happy clappers there who blindly follow Mollycoddle and cheer his every single yet are willing to conclude that Lyth is not good enough after carrying drinks for a month and two failures!

    It was an odd day in that England bowled well in stages but ultimately just haven’t got the fire power and variety. It’s starting to look like Jimmy is struggling and Broad will never show the consistency needed. Stokes must be used as a shock bowler in short spells but certainly have something to develop. Yesterday was the first time I’d seen Wood and he was probably the pick of the bunch but I couldn’t escape the feeling I was watching a poor man’s Simon Jones (what a sad loss to the side he was). Whilst Moeen tries, in the longer term, his figures flattered him and will extend this experiment that I fear will ultimately fail.

    The other sense of disappointment I felt was that we only get to see this kiwi side in two tests and let’s face it an undercooked one in this test too. Would have been great to see a batsman like Kane in 3 tests, Boult/Southee in another couple of tests when they are familiar with a red ball and McCullum bat with composure as opposed to a frenetic whirlwind where he looked horribly out of nick.

    Sadly due to being treated with contempt by the ECB, it’s the 24 May and my international season is over. Gone are the days of watching 12-15 days of cricket per summer.

    • May I suggest this is way off the mark? Just for a few days forget the idiocy of the ECB. I have been fortunate to watch every ball at Lord’s. This has been pulsating Test cricket. What a shame if you can’t celebrate that and look forward to the rest of the summer. I don’t understand your reasoning for suggesting ECB prevent you from enjoying what you clearly love. They are contemptible but why let them stop your love of cricket played well (or even not so well)?

      • Fair challenge Mark. I’ve cut back last year and this year as I’m not keen on funding an organisation I dislike. I appreciate it’s probably futile.
        I’m hoping to spend more time watching tour matches and/or county cricket in the short term.

      • Mark,
        This. So much this. Couldn’t agree more.
        This idea that you give up supporting your team because of the suits that run it just baffles me. It’s like divorcing your wife because you don’t like the in-laws.
        So the ECB are a bunch of idiots. Well, they can get in line with every other sporting governing body. Football? Idiots. Olympics? Idiots. Motor Racing? Idiots. NFL? Idiots. It’s in the job description.
        We love sport in spite of the people that run it. In fact we love sport because it is the very antidote to the incompetence, pettiness and (often) corruption embedded in major sporting bodies, and in life in general. Sick of the ECB? Then remind yourself of the beauty of the game and the joy of the contest that remains essentially the same. This has been four days of the best test cricket you could possibly imagine, and anyone who lets the ECB spoil their enjoyment of it is hurting only themselves.

  • Really good stuff from Cook, Root and Stokes.

    Cook looked much more organised outside off stick, which is really key to his game. It looks like NZ have good plans for Root and they nearly picked him up a few times before he holed out, but he’s winning the battle very comfortably so far this series. Stokes rode his luck a bit but he’s a very able batsman technically in terms of his attacking shots. Not an easy man to keep quiet when he goes after you.

    The main factor in England winning the day for me was that Cook / Root survived the difficult stuff vs the quicks and were then well placed to cash in against the offie, who turned out to be a weak link. If NZ had had a stronger spin option then they could have maintained pressure much more easily, but as it was the batsmen just picked him off and gave McCullum a real headache.

    I’m not expecting an England win tomorrow though. I don’t expect Cook to push the scoring on quickly enough or alternatively to make a sporting enough declaration to be able to force a win on a track that’s still looking pretty good.

    Might he set them 400 in two sessions?

  • Well batted cook
    Poor captaincy cook
    Mcc member put back in his place in the long room
    NZ bowled very very poorly
    Stokes played a gem of an innings and took the game from game saving to draw with a hint of a win (not that cook has the guts or tactical brain to execute, or the bowling for that matter)

    Good test match though, watching Williamson bat is a masterclass


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